The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said that eight Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes came close to Taiwan’s contiguous zone, which extends 24 nautical miles off the island’s coast.
Since then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan in August, PLA warplanes have regularly crossed the median line, an informal barrier that separates the two sides of the Taiwan Strait that the PLA used to avoid. But there have been no reports of Chinese aircraft entering Taiwan’s contiguous zone.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter that Taiwan’s “Armed Forces detected 19 PLA aircraft (including J-10, J-16, etc.), eight of which crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and approached the 24-nautical-mile line.”
China has kept up the military pressure on Taiwan as the US has continued to increase support for Taipei, including the deployment of about 200 US troops to the island, the largest-known US military presence in Taiwan since 1979.
Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said earlier this year that China will use Taiwan’s growing military and diplomatic ties as an excuse to fly closer to the island. Chiu expected the PLA to enter the contiguous zone if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) visited Taiwan.
McCarthy ended up hosting Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California in April instead of traveling to Taiwan. The meeting provoked major Chinese military exercises around Taiwan, but they were not as extensive as the drills launched by the PLA in response to the Pelosi visit.
Chiu said that if PLA warplanes enter the contiguous zone, Taipei would “restrain ourselves from launching the first strike to avoid giving China an excuse to attack Taiwan.”
But if Chinese aircraft enter Taiwan’s airspace, which extends 12 nautical miles from its coast, Chiu said Taiwanese forces would respond.
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“We would be forced to respond should Chinese military vessels and aircraft come near or enter the nation’s airspace and territorial waters, even if they are in disputed areas,” he said.
Mon, 06/26/2023 – 22:20