The threat posed by Beijing was "more serious than ever," Taiwan said, after China conducted a large-scale military exercise on Tuesday, featuring fighter jets and heavy bombers.
According to Newsweek, Taiwan's air force scrambled fighter aircraft and readied air defense missiles as 29 People's Liberation Army (PLA) planes flew inside the island's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) throughout the day, in what has become a near-daily occurrence.
"The latest large-scale exercise by the #PLA shows authoritarian #China's military threat is more serious than ever," Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu, tweeted Wednesday from the ministry's account.
"But there's no way #Taiwan will cave in and surrender its sovereignty and democracy to the big bully. Not a chance! JW," he wrote, ending with his initials.
An ADIZ is a self-declared buffer zone falling within international airspace, where countries request that passing aircraft, military and civilian, identify themselves. The zones are not regulated under international law, but are upheld by Taiwan's neighbors, including Japan, South Korea, and China.
Newsweek reports that the latest PLA air exercise featured 12 Chinese fighter jets and six nuclear-capable heavy bombers, as well as a number of support aircraft that perform electronic and anti-submarine warfare, intelligence-gathering, airborne early warning and control, and long-range refueling.
Taiwan's Defense Ministry published an illustrative map Tuesday that showed Chinese warplanes flying past southern Taiwan into the western Pacific.
It was the strongest show of air power near the island since Taipei tracked 30 PLA sorties on May 30 and 39 sorties on Jan. 23, according to Newsweek.
Chinese aircraft have frequently intruded into Taiwan’s ADIZ since September 2020, and Taiwan has publicly reported the flights, which it sees as provocative. The United States – the island nation’s staunchest international supporter – has warned that Beijing’s military exercises risk miscalculation and are threatening.
According to Washington-based defense analyst Gerald Brown, 972 Chinese aircraft sorties entered Taiwan’s ADIZ in 2021, more than twice the Taiwanese government’s 2020 estimate of 380 flights.
So far, PLA air incursions around Taiwan total 522 sorties for the year.
Taiwan does not report PLA activity on the mainland side of the Taiwan Strait “median line,” the unspoken buffer down the middle of the passage. It also does not regularly report activity occurring outside the boundaries of its ADIZ.
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