Taiwan’s defense ministry has called on China to cease its “persistent military provocations” against the self-governing island.
These provocations involve the detection of over 100 Chinese military aircraft in the most recent series of maneuvers aimed at asserting Beijing’s territorial claims.
According to the ministry, it has identified 103 Chinese military aircraft, including fighter jets, over the sea since Sunday, marking a significant uptick. Additionally, nine Chinese navy ships were detected.
Of particular concern, the ministry reported that 40 of these aircraft crossed the unofficial median line of the Taiwan Strait, which had previously acted as a de facto boundary between the two sides until China began breaching it regularly about a year ago.
Furthermore, some of these aircraft flew south of Taiwan, traversing the Bashi Channel, which separates the island from the Philippines.
China asserts its sovereignty over Taiwan, a democratically governed region, and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its goal.
The defense ministry stated that China’s recent activities pose “serious challenges” to security in the Taiwan Strait and the surrounding region, emphasizing that peace and stability are a shared responsibility among all regional parties.
The ministry called on China to “immediately cease such detrimental unilateral actions,” warning that the continuous military harassment by China could escalate tensions and worsen regional security.
Tony Hu, a former senior director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the United States Department of Defense, noted that China’s actions, while not illegal under international law due to their occurrence in international airspace, are intended to intimidate Taiwan and showcase China’s military prowess.
He added that Taiwan is closely monitoring these activities and ensuring its air defense systems are prepared as a precaution.
In addition to the recent air force operations, Taiwan detected exercises involving the Chinese navy and its Shandong aircraft carrier in the western Pacific last week.
Japan’s defense ministry also reported the presence of six Chinese ships, including frigates, destroyers, a fast combat support ship, and the Shandong aircraft carrier, south of Miyakojima Island, east of Taiwan.
Jets and helicopters were seen taking off and landing from the Shandong. These maneuvers, described as the “largest in years” by a regional security official, have intensified regional tensions.
Taiwan’s defense ministry noted that July to September traditionally witnessed heightened Chinese military drills along the coast. China has not officially commented on these recent drills in the area.
In the past, China conducted military exercises after high-profile meetings involving Taiwan’s leadership and U.S. officials, such as following President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in April and after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022.