China Buzzes Taiwan Zone With Scores of Military Aircraft

US wants an end to the flights it calls concerning and provocative
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2021 12:30 PM CDT
China Buzzes Taiwan Zone With Scores of Military Aircraft
A Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location.   (Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP, File)

Scores of Chinese fighter jets have encroached on Taiwan's air defense zone in the past few days, an action threatening enough to cause the self-ruled island to scramble its own military aircraft. Taiwan reported 16 incursions on Sunday, 39 on Saturday, and 38 on Friday—the most ever, NBC reports. The Chinese military aircraft included bombers and anti-submarine planes on nighttime flights. Taiwan's airspace was not violated. The US FAA defines the air defense zone as an area in which "a country requires the immediate and positive identification, location and air traffic control of aircraft in the interest of the country's national security," per CNN.

The US expressed concern about the "provocative military activity," saying it's "destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability." Analysts don't see the flights, which began on China's National Day holiday, as meaning war is near, per the New York Times. But especially given the timing, "it sends a message about Beijing’s determination to claim Taiwan, by force if necessary," said an Australian analyst. China considers Taiwan still part of its territory, though the losing nationalist side in China's civil war set up a government on the island in 1949.

China's government didn't say anything about the weekend flights but has said after past flights that they're intended to guard against "collusion" between Taiwan and foreign militaries. "It is very worrying," said a security analyst in Taipei, the capital. "This puts a lot more pressure on our military, and the more they reach into our airspace, the greater the risk of some kind of "accident." Taiwan sent military jets up to keep an eye on the Chinese planes but not confront them. Analysts said that's a strain on Taiwan's personnel and aircraft and could affect military readiness. "We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan," the State Department's statement said. (Read more Taiwan-China relations stories.)

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