China Warplanes Make Record Number of Flights in Taiwan’s Air Defense Zone

Chinese warplanes made multiple incursions close to Taiwan Friday in the second major display of military might in two weeks.

China Warplanes Make Record Number of Flights in Taiwan’s Air Defense Zone
Two People's Liberation Army Air Force J-20 stealth fighter jets fly over spectators in Zhuhai, China, on Nov. 1, 2016. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Chinese warplanes made a record number of incursions close to Taiwan on Saturday, continuing their display of military might as Beijing enters a second day of celebrating the country’s founding.

People’s Liberation Army aircraft conducted 19 flights near the territory overnight, adding to the 20 seen earlier on Saturday and 38 on Friday, Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Twitter.

The incursions came as the National Day holiday started on the mainland to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the People’s Republic’s founding. Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, said Taiwan should probably expect further such incidents.

“These warplanes appearing at Taiwan Straits on China’s National Day is a new ceremony of Chinese people to celebrate the holiday,” he wrote on Twitter. “There could be more warplanes appearing there next year on the National Day, if Taiwan authorities continue their provocation.”

The shows of force come after Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued an angry denunciation of Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on its official Weibo account. China derided his efforts to strengthen Taiwan’s international relations as “shrilling and moaning,” and “the buzzing of flies.”

The statement followed Wu’s assertion, in a Sept. 27 speech to the Hoover Institution in the U.S., that Taiwan is under constant threat from China, including gray zone tactics and information security attacks. China is attempting to lure Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and exclude it from important international organizations, Wu said.  

China Warplanes Make Record Number of Flights in Taiwan’s Air Defense Zone

‘Verbal Abuse’

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council hit back at China’s criticism of Wu, calling it “unprecedented verbal abuse in the international community.” 

China has increased its diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan over the past year. The Chinese air force made more than 500 incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ in the first nine months of 2021, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told lawmakers, compared with more than 300 a year in the past.

Friday’s flights included sorties by 28 J-16s -- a China-built strike fighter -- and four SU-30s, the ministry said in a statement. The SU-30 is built by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corp. and is used in multiple roles. Another 26 J-16s, 10 SU-30s and two Chinese-made Y-8s flew on Saturday.

Some 24 PLA aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone a week earlier, one day after Taiwan announced it had requested to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. In June, China’s airforce sent 28 planes close to Taiwan in what was then the biggest sortie this year. 

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