TAIPEI, July 12: China’s air force and navy staged a second day of large-scale exercises with fighter jets, bombers and warships to Taiwan’s south and southwest on Wednesday, the island’s defence ministry said, as Beijing keeps up its military pressure.
While China has not commented on the exercises, they are happening less than two weeks before Taiwan stages its own annual drills and as NATO holds a summit at which alliance leaders said China challenges its interests, security and values with its “ambitions and coercive policies”.
China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has over the past three years regularly sent warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, to try to force the island to accept Chinese sovereignty.
China staged war games around Taiwan last August and again in April, and it has regularly flown military aircraft across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which had previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said that from 7 a.m. (2300GMT) it had detected 30 Chinese aircraft over the sea, including J-10 and J-16 fighters, of which 23 either crossed the median line or entered airspace to the southeast or southwest of the island.
The Chinese air force planes were acting in coordination with its ships to carry out joint training to the south of Taiwan, and four Chinese warships were engaged in “combat readiness patrols”, the ministry said.
On Tuesday, the ministry reported similar Chinese activity in the same area but said 32 Chinese air force planes had entered the island’s ADIZ.
That drill included four nuclear-capable H-6 bombers that flew to Taiwan’s south and into the Pacific before heading back, according to a map the ministry provided.
Taiwan sent its aircraft and ships to monitor the Chinese activity on both days, the ministry said.
The ADIZ is a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols to give its forces more time to respond to threats.
China has not commented on any of its drills that Taiwan has reported over the past month or so.
Last month, Taiwan said eight Chinese war planes crossed the median line and approached its contiguous zone, which Taiwan defines as 24 nautical miles (44 km) off its coast.
Taiwan’s territorial space is defined as 12 nautical miles from its coast, though the government has not reported Chinese aircraft entering either the contiguous zone or territorial air space.
Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s people can decide their future.