China steps up air forays into Taiwan’s buffer zone after US-led exercises

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Military tension around Taiwan increased on Monday as China sent a record 52 fighter jets to the country’s air defense identification zone after the United States and five of its allies staged a large naval exercise in the east of the island.

The incursion, which included 36 fighters and 12 nuclear-capable bombers, marked the third time in four days that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force set a new record for flights in the area. Taiwan air stamp. Monday’s flights brought the total number of such missions to 145 since Friday.

Taiwanese officials said that while the Chinese plane that entered its Adiz on Monday appeared to be engaged in an exercise targeting the United States and its allies, the scale of PLA activity near Taiwan had reached a level dangerous.

“It is approaching the brink of conflict,” a senior Taiwanese official told the Financial Times.

According to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the navies of the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand conducted a large-scale exercise on Saturday and Sunday involving three carriers. planes and 14 other warships southwest of Okinawa.

Two people familiar with the situation said the Chinese plane was simulating attacks on some of the warships that took part in the joint exercise and were on their way home or on new missions.

Taipei demanded Monday that China immediately end its “irresponsible provocations.” Meanwhile, the Biden administration said it was “very concerned” about China’s provocative military activities around Taiwan.

“This activity is destabilizing, it risks being wrong and it undermines regional peace and stability. We strongly urge Beijing to stop its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan, ”said Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department.

Some analysts suggested the increasing pace was linked to the end of a PLA training cycle, while others said China was making a point around October 1, the anniversary of the founding of the republic. People’s Republic of China, and before Taiwan’s own National Day on October 10.

Bonnie Glaser, a Chinese expert at the German Marshall Fund, said the Chinese flights were also designed to test Taiwan’s response time and to exhaust its air force. But she said the flights were not a prelude to war, stressing that they took place in international airspace.

Ivan Kanapathy, a Chinese expert who served on the National Security Council during Donald Trump’s administration, said there was too much emphasis on PLA flights given the other military means China had headed to Taiwan.

“Elements in China and Taiwan are benefiting from the narrative that these particular training operations violate international standards or pose a direct or immediate military threat to Taiwan. It’s not certain that either is true, ”said Kanapathy, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In terms of perspective, the PLA continues to improve on the nearly 2,000 surface-to-surface missiles that can strike Taiwan from the mainland with minimal warning.”

Rising tensions come as the United States and several of its allies and partners step up defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in response to China’s increasingly aggressive use of its growing military capabilities .

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