China claims the warplane exercises are a warning to Taiwan and the United States.
A Chinese government official stated on Wednesday that recent military drills near Taiwan were designed as warnings to Taiwanese independence supporters and “external forces,” a subtle reference to the US.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry observed 153 People’s Liberation Army warplane sorties into international airspace southwest of the island, including 150 flights in five days, according to Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) in Beijing.
It was a worrisome escalation that coincided with China’s National Day celebrations on October 1, but until this week, Beijing had not explicitly tied the PLA missions to any targeted audiences.
“The PLA training exercises are aimed at preventing ‘Taiwan independence’ splittism and external intervention,” Ma stated at a regular press briefing. He went on to say that the movements were a “totally just step” to keep the Taiwan Strait peaceful and stable.
Regular warplane operations near Taiwan began in earnest in March 2019, according to Taiwanese defense authorities. The substantial increase in activity earlier in October coincided with the deployment of American and British carrier groups from the Western Pacific into the South China Sea, which China appeared to view as dangerous.
Cross-strait tensions were at their “most acute” in the four decades since Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng enlisted in the military, he told legislators last week. By 2025, he estimated, the PLA would have the potential to attack Taiwan at a low cost.
At all levels, the Biden administration has supported Taiwan and labeled China’s military flights as disruptive and threatening “miscalculation.”
Beijing, on the other hand, appears to be alone in blaming rising tensions on Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which it alleges is pushing for the island’s formal independence despite Taiwan’s leadership’s vows to the contrary.
“If the DPP authorities persist in their stubbornness and do not stop before it is too late, Taiwan will be pushed into an even more hazardous situation,” Ma of the TAO said.
Faced with Beijing’s insistence that Taiwan is a Chinese province, Taipei maintains that it is already a functionally independent state known as the Republic of China, and hence sees no need to declare independence.
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, rebuked Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday after he pressed on the island’s “unification” with China. This is a condensed version of the information.