On Tuesday, the Ministry of Defense for Taiwan announced a record 28 Chinese military aircraft entered its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in what appears to be a retaliatory message from China after it was rebuked by the U.S. and G7 nations.
The large-scale Chinese military flight over Taiwan came shortly after President Joe Biden met with global leaders at the G7 summit, where they issued a communique calling out Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang as well as its increased military actions in the East and South China Seas.
The flights of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft included 20 total fighter jets, four bombers, two aerial early warning aircraft, an electronic warfare aircraft and an anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Taiwan said.
The Ministry of National Defense for the Republic of China, the formal name for the Taiwanese government, tweeted, “28 PLA aircraft (Y-8 ASW, H-6*4, Y-8 EW, KJ-500 AEW&C*2, J-16*14 and J-11*6) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on June. 15, 2021. Please check our official website for more information.”
The 28 Chinese military aircraft surpassed the previous single-day total for Chinese aircraft operating in Taiwanese air defense space.
The previous record high number of Chinese aircraft over Taiwanese airspace was in April when 25 PLA aircraft entered the Taiwanese ADIZ. During the previous record-setting Chinese military flights, Chinese warplanes were also observed flying what looked like practice runs of strikes on U.S. warships operating in the region near the Philippines.
China has been flying near-constant military flights around Taiwan for months, in an apparent effort to exhaust Taiwan’s smaller air force.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said in response to the massive Chinese military flight around Tawain it tasked CAP aircraft (likely referring to combat air patrol aircraft), issued radio warnings and activated air defense missile systems to monitor the Chinese military activity.
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, mainland China contends that the island is a part of its territory. While the U.S. has recognized China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan since 1979, it has continued to interact with Taiwan through a policy of strategic ambiguity toward the island.
China has set a trend of sending large-scale military flights and holding other military drills near Taiwan in response to U.S. interactions with Taiwan and other instances of U.S. pressure on China.
This latest wave of Chinese military flights comes after U.S. President Joe Biden and other attendees at the G7 conference raised concerns about Chinese actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and toward Taiwan. On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the G7 was deliberately “interfering in China’s internal affairs” and “reveals the malign intentions of the U.S. and a few other countries to create confrontation and widen differences and disputes” with China.
Chinese state media directly referenced the Chinese military drills in relation to the visit by U.S. lawmakers to Taiwan and Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said, “If anyone dares to separate Taiwan island from China, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will give it a head-on strike and firmly defend national reunification and territorial integrity at all costs.”