China flew 25 military aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Friday in an apparent display of force coinciding with the country’s National Day, which commemorates the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
The “air incursion” included 18 J-16 and four Su-30 fighter jets, two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft belonging to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, according to a statement from Taiwan’s defense ministry. Taiwan responded by deploying its own combat aircraft and monitoring the Chinese planes using the island’s missile defense systems.
The Chinese aircraft flew close to the Pratas Island, an atoll in the South China Sea, located southwest of Taiwan and near the Chinese provinces of Fujian and Guangdong, according to a map of their flight paths shared by Taiwan’s defense ministry.
25 PLA aircraft (J-16*18, SU-30*4, H-6*2 and Y-8 ASW) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on October 1, 2021. Please check our official website for more information: https://t.co/C7012S8hSo pic.twitter.com/HoalLl3Ewx
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) October 1, 2021
Chinese aircraft made around 380 air incursions into the ADIZ in 2020 alone, a Taiwanese defense official said in January. But Beijing has become more assertive in its military posture, making more than 500 air incursions so far this year, DW reported.
China sent a total of 24 fighter jets toward Taiwan on Sept. 24 after the self-governing island announced its intention to join a trade partnership of Pacific countries that China had also applied to join, The Associated Press reported. (RELATED: Chinese Incursions Of Taiwan’s Air Defense Zone Take On New Meaning Post Afghanistan Debacle)
Tensions between the two countries have been fraught in recent months, with Chinese air missions in Taiwanese airspace and near the Pratas Islands in turn becoming more frequent. China claims Taiwan as its territory, and has defended its incursions into Taiwanese airspace as essential to protecting its own sovereignty.
Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian warned in January that “Taiwan independence means war.” He also called China’s military activities in the Taiwan Strait “a solemn response to interference from external forces and provocations from ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.”