Taiwan Deployed Anti-Air Assets in Response to the PLA’s Sept. 23 Sortie of 24 Aircraft

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A US-made Patriot missile is fired from a mobile launcher on a beach during the Han Kuang 22 exercise in Ilan, eastern Taiwan, 20 July 2006. (Image: SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

On Sept. 23, two dozen Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft broke into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The island nation responded by tracking the aircraft with land-based anti-aircraft missiles and scrambling fighter jets. The Republic of China’s (ROC) Ministry of National Defense (MND) also broadcast warnings to the mainland Chinese aircraft.

The incursion happened in two deployments. According to the MND, the initial incursion included 12 Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, two Xian H-6 bombers, one Shaanxi Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft, two Shenyang J-11 fighter jets, and two Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes. This infiltration happened in the southwestern corner of the ADIZ at 4:30 p.m.

The MND reported a second intrusion at 7:15 p.m. when five Chinese military planes penetrated the same region. This fleet included two Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, one Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft, and two Shenyang J-11 fighters.

The Sept. 23 intrusion, which included 24 aircraft in total, was the third-largest single-day penetration of PLAAF planes into Taiwan’s airspace. The largest was reported on June 15 when a total of 28 military aircraft entered the ADIZ.

Rising military aggression by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has forced the ROC (Taiwan) government to focus on expanding its fighting capabilities. In March, Taipei decided to acquire an advanced version of Lockheed Martin’s Patriot surface-to-air missile to reinforce its forces. The decision to acquire upgraded Patriots was finalized in 2019 under the Trump administration. Taiwan has also raised its military budget for 2022, planning to spend $1.44 billion to acquire new fighter jets.

Notably, the incursions on Sept. 23 happened a day after Taiwan put forward an application to participate in a trade pact called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Beijing has strongly opposed the move, with the foreign ministry insisting that the island nation desist from being part of international treaties and organizations.

At a press conference, PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that there is only “one China in the world” and that Taiwan is an “inalienable” part of the PRC’s territory. He stated that the One China principle is the “consensus of the international community” and a “universally recognized norm” in international relations.  

“China firmly opposes all official interactions between Taiwan and any country, firmly rejects Taiwan’s accession to any agreement or organization of official nature. China’s position on this issue is clear,” Zhao said.  

In response, the Taiwan foreign ministry said that Beijing has “no right to speak” about Taiwan’s application to join the CPTPP. “The Chinese government only wants to bully Taiwan in the international community, and is the arch-criminal in increased hostility across the Taiwan Strait,” the ROC minister said.

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