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China flies 27 warplanes into Taiwan’s aerial buffer zone; Taiwan scrambles jets

Chinese J-16 fighter jet. (Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan, Released)
November 29, 2021

China flew 27 warplanes around Taiwan and entered its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday, prompting the island nation to deploy fighter jets, activate its missile defenses and issue radio warnings for China to leave.

The Ministry of National Defense for the Republic of China, the formal name of the Taiwanese government, tweeted on Sunday, “27 PLA aircraft (KJ-500 AEW&C*2, Y-9 EW, H-6*5, Y-20 Aerial Refueling, J-10*6, J-11*4 and J-16*8) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on November 28, 2021.”

China sent 18 fighter jets towards Taiwan, including six J-10s, four J-11s and eight J-16s. The wave of warplanes also included five H-6 nuclear-capable bombers, two KJ-500 aerial early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, a Y-9 electronic warfare (EW) aircraft and a Y-20 aerial refueling aircraft.

The wave of warplanes is not the largest China has ever sent towards Taiwan, but is the largest China has deployed around Taiwan in several weeks and is part of an ongoing campaign of nearly daily aerial sorties around the island. In October, China sent 56 warplanes towards Taiwan, setting the single-day record for aircraft deployed around the island. That wave of 56 Chinese warplanes came at the end of a four-day period in which China sent nearly 150 warplanes towards Taiwan.

The Republic of China relocated to the island of Taiwan and split from the Chinese mainland at the end of a civil war with the Chinese communists in 1949. While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory. Chinese officials have increasingly alluded to plans to “reunify” Taiwan with the Chinese mainland and has vowed to “resolutely crush all attempts at ‘Taiwan independence.‘”

This latest large-scale Chinese aerial incursion of Taiwan’s ADIZ comes days after a new Congressional report revealed China is either nearing or has already achieved the minimum military capability needed to invade and take Taiwan by force.

“Today, the PLA either has or is close to achieving an initial capability to invade Taiwan—one that remains under development but that China’s leaders may employ at high risk—while deterring, delaying, or defeating U.S. military intervention,” the report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states.

The large-scale Chinese military flight around Taiwan also came on the same day Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. During the meeting, Xi — who is China’s president, general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China Central Committee (CPC) and chairman of the CMC — called for the Chinese military to put renewed focus on cultivating talent.