An escalation of tensions is to be feared. More than a hundred Chinese planes and nine warships were detected around Taiwan in the space of 24 hours, the island's authorities said Monday, the highest figure recorded recently.
“Between the morning of September 17 and 18, the Ministry of Defense detected a total of 103 Chinese aircraft, which is a record in a recent (period) and poses serious security concerns on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and the region,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Continued military harassment” by China “can easily lead to soaring tensions and deteriorate security in the region,” the ministry warned, calling on Beijing to “immediately cease these destructive unilateral actions.”
Of the number of military aircraft detected, 40 crossed the median line – an unofficial demarcation between China and Taiwan that the former does not recognize – and entered the southern Air Defense Identification Zone (Adiz). -west and southeast, according to the press release. Nine Chinese warships were also spotted around the island.
The Adiz, not to be confused with the airspace of a country, encompasses a much wider area in which any foreign aircraft is supposed to announce itself to local air authorities. The Adiz of Taiwan overlaps part of that of China and even includes a portion of the continent.
Last week, Taipei reported a growing number of incursions by Chinese planes and warships, after Beijing said its soldiers remained "constantly on high alert" following the passage of two ships American and Canadian through the Taiwan Strait. According to Taiwan's Defense Ministry, 68 planes and 10 ships of the Chinese military had been detected between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning near the island. These aircraft were heading to the Western Pacific to join the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong for training, he said.
Fighter planes and helicopters had also been spotted taking off and landing from Shandong, according to this source. So far, China has not commented on these maneuvers. The Chinese government considers the autonomous island as part of its territory which it has vowed to one day reunify, by force if necessary.
Beijing has stepped up threats and political and economic pressure on Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016, from a party advocating a formal declaration of independence for the island. Last April, Beijing conducted military exercises simulating an encirclement of the island, after a meeting between the Taiwanese president and the Speaker of the American House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy in California.
Taiwan then detected 71 combat aircraft in 24 hours, equaling a record deployment reached in December 2022. In August 2022, the Chinese army launched gigantic military maneuvers around Taiwan after the visit to Taipei of Nancy Pelosi, then president of the House of Representatives in the US Congress.