The largest flight display since the significant military drill in which it simulated shutting off the island earlier in April, the Chinese military flew 38 fighter jets and other warplanes close to Taiwan, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry on Friday.
Additionally, naval vessels were spotted in the region as part of China’s ongoing intimidation campaign against Taiwan.
Later on Friday, the People’s Liberation Army of China protested the passage of a P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol plane from the United States Navy through the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China from the autonomous island democracy that Beijing claims as its own.
The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command said it dispatched fighter fighters to track the plane’s flight and described Thursday’s mission as a provocation that the U.S. “openly hyped up.”
Such actions “fully prove that the U.S. is a disruptor of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and a creator of security risks,” according to the statement.
“Theater troops maintain a high level of alertness at all times and resolutely defend national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability.”
According to the U.S. 7th Fleet, the trip on Thursday was legal under international law and “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The statement stated, “The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere that international law permits, including within the Taiwan Strait.”
Although there are no formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, the U.S. continues to be Taiwan’s closest military and political ally. Washington is required by U.S. law to evaluate all threats to the island as “grave concern,” but it is unclear whether the American military would be sent to assist in the island’s defense.
Beijing has threatened to use force if necessary to annex Taiwan, and China’s fiercely nationalistic leader Xi Jinping has vowed never to cede “a single inch” of territory that his nation claims, including Taiwan, the line of demarcation with India, and the South China Sea, which China claims almost entirely.
Chinese navy warships and the most recent Chinese warplane flights were sighted in the region from 6 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, the island’s Defense Ministry said.
According to the ministry, 19 planes crossed the middle of the Taiwan Strait, separating the island from the mainland.
According to a graphic from the Defense Ministry, they allegedly consisted of five SU-30 and two J-16 fighter jets and one drone: a sizable, long-range TB-001 Scorpion capable of carrying various bombs and missiles that circled the island in an unusual maneuver.
It was unclear what, if anything, sparked the massive Chinese operation, but China has been making increasingly ambitious attempts to prepare for a possible attack, deplete the island’s military, and influence politics in Taiwan.
Officials from the U.S. military recently expressed their growing concern that the likelihood of a confrontation has increased due to China’s significant military development.
After the contentious meeting between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and the U.S. on April 5, China conducted drills simulating the island’s sealing. Kevin McCarthy, the House Speaker, is in California.
China opposes any official interactions between Taiwan and other governments.
After a civil war that left the Communist Party in charge of the mainland, Taiwan and China divided in 1949. Although the island has never been a part of the PRC, Beijing insists it must reunite with the mainland, even if that means using force.