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Beijing Sends Record Number of Fighter Jets Into Taiwan’s ADIZ

Published: October 5, 2021
CHANG-HUA, TAIWAN - MAY 28: American F-16-V of Taiwan Air Force during an anti-invasion drill on hight-way road in Chang-Hua on May 28, 2019 in Chang-Hua, Taiwan. The live firing was part of annual exercises designed to prove the military's capabilities to repel any Chinese attack. China and Taiwan split during a civil war in 1949, but China claims Taiwan island as its territory. (Image: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)

In yet another display of aggression, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent a record number of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) during the first three days of October. The incursions coincided with Beijing celebrating its National Day holiday on Oct. 1 that celebrated the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  

A total of 93 PLA aircraft planes have flown near the territory of the Republic of China — as Taiwan is officially known — between Oct. 1 and 3. A total of 38 military aircraft entered the ROC’s ADIZ on Oct. 1, according to the ROC defense ministry. 

The aircraft included 28 J-16 fighters, four SU-30 fighters, four H-6 bombers, an early warning aircraft, and an anti-submarine war plane.

On Oct. 2, Beijing sent 39 aircraft, which included 10 SU-30 fighters, 26 J-16 fighters, two anti-aircraft planes, and one early-warning aircraft into the ROC’s ADIZ representing a record for the number of aircraft sent. Prior to this, the highest number of planes sent by Beijing into Taiwan’s ADIZ was 28, recorded in June 2021. On Oct. 3, China sent 16 fighter jets.

The aggressive incursions have triggered alarm bells in Taiwan and the United States. Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang accused the PRC of “wantonly engag[ing] in military aggression, damaging regional peace.” 

“Threatening? Of course. It’s strange the #PRC doesn’t bother faking excuses anymore,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price stated that Washington is “very concerned” regarding Beijing’s “provocative military activity” near Taiwan. He warned that such actions are “destabilizing” and undermines peace and stability in the region.

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan… We will continue to stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values and deepen our ties with democratic Taiwan,” Price said in a statement. He added that the U.S. will continue to help Taiwan in maintaining a “sufficient self-defense capability.” 

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry thanked Washington for the “strong remarks,” and accused Communist China of worsening tensions across the Indo-Pacific.

The incursions follow a scathing verbal attack by the mainland Chinese authorities against Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu. Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office called Wu’s efforts to promote Taipei’s international ties as “shrilling and moaning.”

In a Sept. 27 speech at the Hoover Institution in the U.S., Wu mentioned that the threat from mainland China was unabating. Information security attacks and grey zone tactics were highlighted. He also blamed the Beijing for keeping Taiwan out of important international institutions and trying to lure its diplomatic allies.

According to experts, the constant incursions of People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft were wearing down ROC pilots and aircraft. Some feel that the incursions could end up affecting the overall vigilance of the island democracy.