The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed 13 warships and a record 68 military aircraft on Friday into the Taiwan Strait and the zone of airspace Taiwan’s military defensively monitors.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense tweeted, “PLA dispatched 68 aircraft and 13 vessels until 17:00 (UTC+8) for the activities around Taiwan Strait, part of which had crossed the median line and jeopardized the status quo of the strait.”
“[Taiwan’s Armed Forces” responded to such a situation accordingly with surveillance systems, CAP aircraft, naval vessels, and missile systems,” the Taiwanese defense ministry added. “We condemn such action that disturbed our surrounding airspace and waters and continue to ensure our democracy and freedom free from threats.”
Taiwan considers all of the Taiwan Strait to fall within its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), an area of international airspace that Taiwan monitors.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said 49 of the Chinese PLA’s 68 aircraft crossed over the east side of the median line of the Taiwan strait, which serves as the approximate midway point across the waterway. Those 49 Chinese military aircraft included 47 J-10, J-11, J-16 and Su-30 fighter jets, a Y-8 electronic warfare variant and a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare variant aircraft.
The massive deployment of Chinese warships and aircraft around Taiwan comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island earlier this week.
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory and condemned Pelosi’s visit as a violation of Chinese sovereignty.
China has flown its military aircraft into the Taiwanese ADIZ on a nearly daily basis for years.
The Chinese military’s aerial activity in the Taiwan Strait on Friday represents the largest reported incursion into the Taiwanese ADIZ in a single day.
The PLA’s previous largest single-day incursion into the Taiwanese ADIZ took place on Oct. 4, 2021 and involved 52 warplanes. The previous record-setting incursion was part of China’s reaction after President Joe Biden’s administration vowed to deepen ties with Taiwan.
“We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific region — and that includes deepening our ties with democratic Taiwan,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at the time.
As Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday, China announced plans to hold live-fire drills at locations all around the island. Taiwan’s defense ministry said the drills make it “self-evidently apparent that they seek a cross-strait resolution by force instead of peaceful means.”
The PLA’s massive aerial and naval deployments on Friday come a day after PLA missile forces carried out missile launch drills around Taiwan. The PLA forces launched at least 11 ballistic missiles near Taiwan and at least five ballistic missiles fell within the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).