China Sends Record Number Of Fighter Jets Around Taiwan, Launches ‘Cognitive Warfare’ Campaign Against Island

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Jake Smith Contributor
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China has made aggressive moves toward Taiwan in recent weeks as international concern over a potential invasion grows.

Despite Taiwan’s calls for peace, Beijing maintains that the island is China’s territory and that it will take it back by force if necessary. Fears that China may act on such threats were heightened after the country sent a “recent” record of 103 fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait, as well as recent news that Beijing is using “cognitive warfare tactics” to spread distrust among the Taiwanese people, according to The Associated Press and The Taipei Times. (RELATED: China Masses Troops On Coast, Proposes Taiwan Economic Integration Plan)

“Let me reiterate that peace is the only option across the Taiwan Strait,” President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, marking the 112th anniversary of Taiwan’s National Day. “Maintaining the status quo, as the largest common denominator for all sides, is the critical key to ensuring peace.”

Tsai’s comments come weeks after China sent 103 fighter jets through the median line of the Taiwan Straits and into the island’s air-defense zone in just a single day; it is nearly double the second-highest number of warplanes detected in the region since October 2021, which was 56, according to CNN. Chinese state media reported that the show of force was meant to display the military’s heightened air force capabilities and coordination, Politico reported.

Additionally, Beijing has started to employ “cognitive warfare tactics” against Taiwan by breaching devices connected to the island’s internet networks and spreading “disinformation” through hacked social media accounts under the guise of claiming to be Taiwanese citizens, the Taipei Times reported. The cyber attacks come ahead of Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections next year, and are meant to undermine citizens’ faith in the government and public officials.

For example, some posts claimed that Taiwanese officials had illegally smuggled in cigarettes, which are highly regulated on the island, during Tsai’s trip to Central America in April; the original post was later discovered to come from a hacker in Hong Kong, Taipei Times reported. Another post claimed that Chinese missiles had breached Taiwan’s air-defense zone, which investigators found was false and also originated from Hong Kong.

The Ministry of Justice of Taiwan sent out a notice for citizens to delete unused social media accounts and change relevant passwords to avoid being hacked, according to Taipei Times. Regardless of the heightened aggression, Tsai maintains that differences between China and Taiwan should be handled “peacefully.”

“Neither side can unilaterally change the status quo,” Tsai said. “Differences across the strait must be resolved peacefully.”

Taiwan is not recognized by many Western countries as independent; the U.S., while an informal ally with Taiwan, holds a “one China policy,” which Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated during his trip to Beijing in June. Diplomatic efforts between the U.S. and Taiwan are usually met with heightened hostility from China.

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