With record numbers of military flights near Taiwan over the last week, China has been showing a new intensity and military sophistication as it steps up its harassment of the island it claims as its own and asserts its territorial ambitions in the region.
China’s People’s Liberation Army flew 56 planes in international airspace off the southwest coast of Taiwan on Monday, setting a new record and capping four days of sustained pressure involving 149 flights. The actions came as China, with growing diplomatic and military power, faces greater pushback from countries in the region and as Taiwan pleads for more global support and recognition.
The US called China’s latest actions “risky” and “destabilizing,” while China responded that the US selling weapons to Taiwan and its ships navigating the Taiwan Strait were provocative. At the same time as the flights, the US stepped up naval maneuvers in the Indo-Pacific with its allies, challenging Beijing’s territorial claims in critical waterways.
Taiwanese Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told legislators Wednesday that the situation “is the most severe in the 40 years since I’’ve enlisted.”