Taiwan says Chinese air force, navy stage mass drill near island

Defence ministry says it is monitoring the situation after Chinese air force planes appeared to be coordinating with ships in joint training to the south of Taiwan.

Four Chinese J-11B fighter jets flying in formation against a blue sky
Taiwan says it detected Chinese fighter jets as well as bombers in its ADIZ [File: Jason Lee/Reuters]

China’s air force and navy are staging a large-scale drill involving fighter jets, bombers and warships off the south and southwest of Taiwan, according to the self-ruled island’s defence ministry.

China, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, has sent warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, regularly in recent years stepping up military pressure on the island’s government.

China staged war games around Taiwan last August and again in April. Since August, China has regularly flown military aircraft across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two territories.

Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to take control of Taiwan.

Taiwan’s defence ministry, in a statement on Wednesday, said that in the past 24 hours, it had detected 32 Chinese air force planes entering the island’s ADIZ.

The aircraft included four nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, which flew to Taiwan’s south and into the Pacific before heading back to China, according to a map shared by the ministry.

Late on Tuesday, the ministry said the Chinese air force planes were acting in coordination with Chinese ships to carry out joint training to the south of Taiwan, and that four Chinese warships were engaged in “combat readiness patrols”.

Taiwan sent its own aircraft and ships to monitor the Chinese activities, the ministry added.

The ADIZ is a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols to give its forces more time to respond to threats.

China has not commented on the latest drills or the others that Taiwan has reported over the last month or so.

In June, Taiwan said eight Chinese warplanes crossed the median line and approached close to the island’s contiguous zone, which is 24 nautical miles (44 km) off its coast.

Taiwan defines its territorial space at 12 nautical miles (22 km) from its coast, although the government has not reported Chinese aircraft entering either the contiguous zone or Taiwan’s territorial air space.

Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s people can decide their future.

It is gearing up for its annual Han Kuang military exercises, which start on July 24.

They are expected to focus on homeland defence, force preservation and civil-military coordination.

Some of the drills will simulate an attack by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Taiwanese military’s efforts to preserve its forces, Major General Lin Wen-huang, head of the defence ministry’s joint operations planning section, told reporters on Wednesday.

There will also be a simulated PLA airborne attack on Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters