China flies 71 warplanes into Taiwan's ADIZ in one day

The Christmas Day incursions came 2 days after US approved military aid to Taiwan.
By RFA Staff
China flies 71 warplanes into Taiwan's ADIZ in one day A file photo of a Chinese H-6 bomber flying over East China Sea on July 23, 2019.
Defense Ministry of Japan/Reuters

China sent a record 71 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and held a live-fire exercise around the island on Sunday in an apparent response to the passage of a law that authorizes U.S. military loans and aid to Taiwan.

On Friday, President Joe Biden signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23 NDAA) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, allowing up to U.S.$2 billion in loans to help Taiwan boost military capabilities against threats from China.

The Chinese Defense Ministry said China was “strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed this U.S. move” and warned of an increased “risk of China-U.S. military confrontation.”

On Christmas Day, on Sunday, the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a “joint combat-readiness security patrol and joint firepower striking exercise” around Taiwan.

Photos released to Chinese media show the presence of at least one H-6 strategic bomber and a Type 052C guided-missile destroyer, as well as the aerial view of the central mountain range of Taiwan Island, proving the proximity of a participating Chinese military aircraft.

Senior Col. Shi Yi, the command’s spokesperson, said in a statement that “this is a firm response to the current escalation of provocations by the U.S. in collusion with the Taiwan authorities.”

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province that will be reunited with the mainland, by force if needed, and resolutely protests against the “involvement in the Taiwan issue by external forces.”

"The Taiwan question is at the very core of China's core interests. It is the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and a red line that must not be crossed," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday at a forum on foreign relations in China.

Beijing has responded to acts of support granted to the self-ruled island by the United States with military exercises and flyovers.

In early August, when the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a historic visit to Taiwan, the PLA held a week-long series of drills around the island.

Record number of incursions

Over 24 hours till 6 a.m. local time on Monday, the Chinese military sent 71 military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said.

An ADIZ is an area where foreign aircraft are tracked and identified before they reach a country's airspace.

This is the largest number of incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ in a single day. The previous record was 68 on Aug. 5, just after Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

Taiwan map.jpeg
Flight path of Chinese aircraft intruding Taiwan’s ADIZ on Dec. 26, 2022. (Credit: Taiwan Ministry of National Defense)

The ministry said 47 of the detected aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which serves as the de facto boundary between the island and China’s mainland.

Among them were 18 J-16 and 12 J-11 fighter jets, and six Su-30 multirole fighters, it said.

The Taiwanese armed forces “have monitored the situation and tasked CAP (combat air patrol) aircraft, Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond these activities.”

Taiwan has accused China of creating a “new normal” by encroaching upon the median line, which lies around 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Taiwan's waters.

The line, also called the Davis Line, was delineated by a U.S. general at the height of hostility between Beijing and Taipei in 1954, and the PLA largely respected it until a Foreign Ministry spokesman said there was no such thing in 2020.


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