Tuesday, August 9, 2022

China stations stealth jets close to Taiwan: Invasion imminent?

The Chinese air incursions into Taiwan’s air identification defence zone(ADIZ) has escalated fears of an imminent full-fledged invasion of the island nation in the near future. On June 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to complete reunification with self-ruled Taiwan and vowed to smash any attempts at formal independence for the island. Answering a query from a lawmaker on the current military tensions with China at the parliament, Taiwanese defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng termed the situation “most serious” in more than 40 years since he joined the military. Chiu also said China already has the ability to invade Taiwan and it will be capable of mounting a “full scale” invasion by 2025.

Taiwan has recorded more than 600 Chinese sorties into its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) so far this year. Since mid-September of last year, Beijing has stepped up its grey-zone tactics by regularly sending planes into Taiwan’s ADIZ, with most instances occurring in the southwest corner of the zone and usually consisting of one to three slow-flying turboprop planes. 

The Chinese fleet of 56 warplanes that intruded Taiwanese airspace on Tuesday included J-16D jets. Satellite images released by the Kanwa Defence Review show Chinese J-16D fighters parked at the Xiangtang airbase in eastern China’s Jiangxi close to Taiwan. The J-16D has advanced stealth and enemy air defence suppression capabilities. 

The United States has termed China’s recent military activity near Taiwan “provocative” and “strongly urged” Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against the island. On Friday, US State Secretary Antony Blinken said “there is always the possibility of miscalculation, of miscommunication” which can be dangerous. He said that no one should take any unilateral actions that change the status quo by force. Earlier, on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said he spoke to Xi Jinping about Chinese military activity near Taiwan and both sides agreed to abide by the Taiwan agreement.

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