Taiwan Says Chinese Air Force, Navy Stage Mass Drill to Island’s South

REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
J-11B fighter jets of the Chinese Air Force fly in formation during a training session for the upcoming parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, on the outskirts of Beijing, July 2, 2015.

TAIPEI (Reuters) – China’s air force and navy staged another large-scale drill involving fighters, bombers and warships to Taiwan’s south and southwest on Tuesday, the island’s defense ministry said, as Beijing keeps up its military pressure on Taipei.

China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has over the past three years regularly sent warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, to try and force the island to accept Chinese sovereignty.

China staged war games around Taiwan last August and again in April, and has since August also regularly flown military aircraft across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which had previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two.

Taiwan’s defense ministry, in a statement on Wednesday, said that in the past 24 hours it had detected 32 Chinese air force planes entering the island’s ADIZ, a mixture of fighter jets, helicopters and early warning aircraft, among others.

That included four nuclear-capable H-6 bombers which flew to Taiwan’s south and into the Pacific before heading back to China, according to a map the ministry provided.

Late Tuesday, the ministry said the Chinese air force planes were acting in coordination with Chinese ships to carry out joint training to the south of Taiwan, and that four Chinese warships were engaged in “combat readiness patrols.”

Taiwan sent its own aircraft and ships to monitor the Chinese activities, the ministry added.

The ADIZ is a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols to give its forces more time to respond to threats.

China has not commented on these drills nor others over the past month or so which Taiwan has reported.

Last month, Taiwan said eight Chinese war planes crossed the median line and approached close to the island’s contiguous zone that is 24 nautical miles (44 km) off its coast.

Taiwan defines its contiguous zone as being 24 nautical miles from its coast. Its territorial space is defined at 12 nautical miles from its coast, though the government has not reported Chinese aircraft entering either the contiguous zone or Taiwan’s territorial air space.

Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s people can decide their future.