Taiwan continues to live under the perpetual threat of invasion of China, which views the self-ruled Democratic island nation as part of its territory to be taken one day. Beijing has boosted military, diplomatic and economic pressure since the 2016 election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who rebuffs its position that the island is part of China.
The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense said in a regular update on Tuesday morning that a total of 29 People's Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes entered the island nation's southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the last 24 hours. These include the 18 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and one J-11 fighter jet.
A Y-8 anti-submarine and a Y-8 tactical reconnaissance aircraft also crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait based on the ministry statement.
The wave arrived after China imposed fresh import bans on Taiwanese food, beverages, alcohol and fishery products in the past week, prompting Premier Su Tseng-chang to accuse Beijing of violating international trade rules and discriminating against the island nation.
This represents the biggest periodic sortie by H-6 bombers since Taipei first started releasing daily incursion data in September 2020 based on a database kept by AFP. The previous record was 16, which happened in October last year. The H-6 is China's major long-distance bomber and it is capable of carrying nuclear payloads.
Last month China flew 21 of the bombers into Taiwan's air defense identification zones and the present count for December is 23.
Several nations, including the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan and China, have an air defense identification zone in which any foreign aircraft should identify itself to local aviation agencies.
Meanwhile, observers believe the continued sea and air combat drills by the PLA around Taiwan are practice runs for a future blockade or attack.
PLA jets have usually crossed the median line – an unofficial border between Taiwan and mainland China – since Beijing started live-fire drills following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit.
"The Taiwanese armed forces have monitored the situation and tasked combat and air patrol aircraft, navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond to these activities," Taiwan's defense ministry stated.
Ministry records showed it was the first time that several PLA bombers had flown to the southwestern corner of the air defense zone, close to the Taipei-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea.
"Obviously the PLA H-6s were practicing formation flying and combat operation along with the J-11 jet and the PLA vessels," stated Ying Yu Lin, a professor of international relations and strategic studies at Tamkang University in New Taipei.
Lin said that since Pelosi's Taiwan visit in August, the PLA had regularized its naval and aerial presence on the Taiwan side of the median line. Right after the departure of Pelosi, the PLA initiated days of enormous live-fire drills around Taiwan. (Related: China's military begins surrounding Taiwan as it conducts largest live-fire drills in over two decades.)
China's war games near the island nation has continued, albeit on a decreased scale.
According to Lin, the PLA has also expanded its training and exercise areas to the airspace or waters close to South Korea and Japan in an attempt to practice cross-region combat operations, as shown by its latest joint drills with Russia.
According to Max Lo, executive director of Taipei think tank Taiwan International Strategic Study Society, the bomber fly-bys are intended to advance training and operations of PLA warplanes. "After all, with rapid military build-up, the PLA needs to adapt to the latest changes and accumulate experience," Lo stated.
Follow CommunistChina.news for more news about China's incursions into Taiwan's ADIZ.
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