Chinese Military Aircraft, Ships Make Provocative Passes Near Taiwan

July 12, 2023 1:19 PM
Taiwan Ministry of Defense Image

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Nearly two dozen People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft flew over the median line in the Taiwan Strait or into the island’s air defense identification zone on Wednesday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said.

From 7 a.m. local time onward, Taiwan’s Armed Forces identified a total of 30 aircraft, consisting of unmanned aerial vehicles, Chengdu J-10 multi-mission aircraft, Shenyang J-16 fighters and Xian H-6 bombers, operating near Taiwan, according to the MND. Twenty-three of those aircraft flew over the median line or into the island’s southwest or southeastern ADIZ. Four People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels were also operating near the island.

“The PLA aircraft conducted long-range aerial reconnaissance training alongside long-distance vessels to the SE of Taiwan,” the Taiwan MND wrote on Twitter.
“The R.O.C. Armed Forces are closely monitoring the situation with our ISR system and have deployed CAP aircraft, naval vessels, and land-based missile systems in response.”

Taiwan’s MND routinely publicizes what Chinese aircraft and ships are operating around the island. Between 6 p.m. local time Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday, Taiwan had identified 38 aircraft and nine ships operating near the island. Thirty-two of those aircraft had either flown over the median line in the strait, or entered the ADIZ. ADIZ is a larger area than air space and is claimed by an individual state.

Taiwanese officials say PLA aircraft have crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait more frequently since former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visited the island last August. At the time, China performed a series of drills around the island. In April, China’s Shandong Carrier Strike Group (CSG) was operating off of Taiwan’s east coast and performed a series of drills following Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting in California with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

While China has ramped up the aircraft activity across the line, Taiwanese officials are increasingly concerned with how close the aircraft fly to the 24-nautical mile range of the island’s coast. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a state may claim 24 nautical miles around its coast as its contiguous zone and 12 nautical miles as its own territory.

The current PLA aircraft and PLAN vessel activity comes as the Biden administration has pushed to reestablish military-to-military communications with Beijing. Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu turned down an overture from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet last month in Singapore at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing in June, while Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveled to China earlier this month.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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