Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of some 24 million people located on mainland China’s southeast coast, even though the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
But analysts said Tuesday’s flights to China served a number of purposes, both showcasing the might of the country’s People’s Liberation Army to a domestic audience, while providing intelligence and skills to the PLA for any potential links to Taiwan. struggle will be required.
According to Timothy Heath, a senior defense researcher, it also follows the landing of a US Air Force C-17 transport jet in Taipei on June 6, likely in “disgraceful defiance” of Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. is. Rand Corp Think Tank.
The landing of any foreign military aircraft on the soil of another country is strictly regulated by international norms and requires specific authorization.
Heath said the 28 flights to Taiwan’s ADIZ on Tuesday “showed the Chinese domestic audience that China would respond militarily to the US-Taiwan incident, which Chinese officials and media have described as highly provocative.”
“The intrusion also signaled to Taiwan and the United States that China sees military cooperation as a threat,” Heath said.
In just 48 hours after the G7 statement that ranked Beijing, China had put together a complex 28-plane incursion, said Drew Thompson, now a former US Defense Department official at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. .
“Can you make a presidential-level decision in China that is too early for something so complicated? I doubt it,” Thompson said.
“I think we can probably conclude that this was a series of planned exercises that were probably time-framed to allow more aircraft to be added at short notice,” he said.
Taiwan has complained of repeated missions by China’s air force near the island in recent months, which is centered in the southwestern part of its air defense area near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
Thompson noted that Tuesday’s flights included intelligence gathering pre-alert aircraft. Those aircraft can measure Taiwan’s response and that information can be used in the event of possible future combat missions.
He said the PLA’s flights on Tuesday complied with international law because they did not violate Taiwan’s airspace, which extends 12 nautical miles from its coast, but only went into its ADIZ, an area known to be Any country can set it as they wish.
The US Federal Aviation Administration defines an ADIZ as “a designated area of airspace on land or water within which a country requires immediate and positive identification, location and air traffic control of aircraft in the interest of the nation’s national security.” it occurs.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry said the latest Chinese mission included 14 J-16 and six J-11 fighter planes, as well as four H-6 bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons, and are capable of carrying out anti-submarine, electronic warfare and early warning. Aeroplane.
The ministry said Taiwanese fighter jets were sent to intercept and warn Chinese aircraft, while missile systems were also deployed to monitor them.
According to maps provided by the ministry, Chinese aircraft not only fly over the area near the Pratas Islands, but bombers and some fighters fly over the southern part of Taiwan, close to the low end of the island.
Mea Nouwens, senior fellow for Chinese defense policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Tuesday’s flights were different from previous incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ by the Chinese military.
She said, “It looks like the PLA has done something new with the configuration of the planes and the different flight routes. So I’ll put it to the test of new skills once again, in some useful time for (probably) political pointers.” with,” she said.
China’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
China has in the past called such missions necessary to defend the country’s sovereignty and deal with “collusion” between Taipei and Washington, which has no formal diplomatic ties.
China describes Taiwan as its most sensitive regional issue and a red line that the United States should not cross. It has never omitted the possible use of force to ensure final integration.
And China likes to keep its adversaries guessing, said Thompson, a former US Defense Department official.
“Because of all this ambiguity about signaling, timing, package, location, it makes for a very effective gray-zone tool,” Thompson said.
“It tells Japan one thing, America another, Taiwan another.
“It sends a whole bunch of different messages to different people. But the common theme is, ‘Don’t oppose China,'” or face dire consequences, he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters.