China sends 39 warplanes near Taiwan in largest overflight in months

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China has sent 39 fighter jets to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, including 24 J-16 fighter jets, in its biggest incursion in months, the Taiwanese military said. File Photo by EPA-EFE/Taiwan Ministry of National Defense

January 24 (UPI) — China’s air force has sent more than three dozen fighter jets through Taiwan’s air defense zone in its biggest foray since October, Taipei said, forcing the island to send jets hunt in response.

The Taiwanese the Department of Defense said On Sunday evening, China flew 39 aircraft, including 24 J-16 and 10 J-10 fighter jets as well as an H-6 bomber, through the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone, or ADIZ.

Taiwan issued radio warnings, activated missile defense systems and jammed its own fighter jets in response, the ministry said. The Chinese flights passed near the Taiwan-administered Pratas Islands, according to a map from the ministry.

While China regularly flies planes into Taiwan’s air defense zone, Sunday’s mission was the largest since early October, when Beijing sent nearly 150 planes over a four-day period around National Day.

The incursion came a day after the US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force concluded a multi-day joint exercise in the Philippine Sea, which includes waters east of Taiwan.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has pledged to take it back by force if necessary. In recent months, Beijing has stepped up its military provocations with flights and gestures such as beach landing drills in a neighboring province.

In a November Defense Ministry report, Taiwan said China was using “grey area” warfare to weaken its defense capabilities and undermine public morale.

“[China’s] bullying behavior not only consumes our combat power and shakes our faith and morale, but also attempts to alter or challenge the status quo in the Taiwan Strait to ultimately achieve its goal of “taking over Taiwan without a fight “, the ministry report said.

Earlier this month, a Taiwanese F-16V jet crashed into the sea during a routine exercise. Last year, another F-16 went down after leaving Hualien Air Base and two F-5E fighter jets crashed into the sea after colliding in mid-air.

The U.S. Seventh Fleet tweeted sunday that its joint exercises with Japan reaffirmed a “commitment to the free and open Indo-Pacific”. The flotilla included a pair of US Navy aircraft carriers, USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln, as well as a Japanese helicopter destroyer.

The U.S. Navy said Monday the show of force in the Philippine Sea included enhanced maritime communications and anti-submarine warfare operations as well as combat readiness and a host of other goals.

“We are committed to ensuring the lawful use of the sea and the free flow of commerce while deterring those who challenge the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific now and for the long term,” Read Adm. Dan Martin in a statement.

The navy said the drill was part of its routine presence in the region, and it came as the Biden administration seeks to increase its influence in the Indo-Pacific region to counter aggression from China.

Beijing not only accuses the United States of intrusion by entering the East China Sea, but claims much of the South China Sea, where Vietnam and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over the 130 small coral islets of the Paracel Islands. .

On Friday, President Joe Biden spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio in a virtual meeting where the two shared their thoughts on advancing their “shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

“The two leaders resolved to push back against the People’s Republic of China’s attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea; they stressed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the peaceful resolution cross-strait issues,” White Reading of the House of the meeting said.

On Thursday, the Seventh Fleet also sent a destroyer on a freedom of navigation operation near the Paracel Islands.

The Chinese military called the operation “illegal” and warned of “serious consequences”.

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