China sent a record 52 military aircrafts into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) Monday, making it the largest incursion since the self-governing island began publicly reporting such data in 2020.
The aircrafts included 34 J-16, two Su-30 fighter jets, 12 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, two Y-8 anti-submarine warplanes and two KJ-500 airborne control planes belonging to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, according to a statement from Taiwan’s defense ministry. Taiwan issued radio warnings and deployed its air defense missile systems in response.
The Chinese planes flew near 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.
52 PLA aircraft (J-16*34, SU-30*2 Y-8 ASW*2, KJ-500 AEW&C*2 and H-6*12) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on October 4, 2021. Please check our official website for more information: https://t.co/2mC6UszTMB pic.twitter.com/WOtdFvJx8o
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) October 4, 2021
Taiwan’s air force could be heard in radio warnings demanding the Chinese aircrafts “turn around and leave immediately” when they entered the ADIZ, CNN reported. Major countries, including the U.S. and China, also have defense zones that “assist in early identification of aircrafts” near international airspace boundaries.
Chinese aircrafts made around 380 air incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ in 2020 alone, a Taiwanese defense official said in January. Beijing has become more assertive in its military posture, making more than 500 air incursions so far this year, DW reported.
The previous record of Chinese military planes entering Taiwan’s ADIZ was reported Saturday night, when 39 aircraft flew into the zone. China flew 25 planes into the ADIZ on Oct. 1 in an apparent display of force coinciding with the country’s National Day.
Tensions between the two have worsened in recent months. Chinese air missions in Taiwanese airspace and near the Pratas Islands have become more frequent as a result. China claims Taiwan as its territory and defends its incursions into Taiwanese airspace as essential to protecting its own sovereignty. (RELATED: US Military Says Chinese Attack On Taiwan Accelerating As Taiwan Threatens War ‘To The Very Last Day’)
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 “necessary actions to safeguard national sovereignty and security.”
In an op-ed published Sunday, the Chinese state-backed outlet Global Times said Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which opposes reunification with mainland China, has turned the island into “an evil force” that the mainland “must crush” and “get rid of strategically.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price called out China’s “provocative military activity” near Taiwan in a statement Sunday, adding that such action “undermines regional peace and stability.”
“The U.S. commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” he said. “We will continue to stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values and deepen our ties with democratic Taiwan.”