Taiwan’s defense minister last night condemned a massive intrusion by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air force into its airspace and announced that as a result, it had taken off the fighter jet and activated its ground systems. air defense missiles to ward off any warlike development of the situation.
But, as they are used to, the apparatus of Communist China made a brief turn, and then returned by crossing the Strait of Taiwan in the opposite direction, this area looked eminently sensitive.
50% jump in airspace violations
The Ministry of Defense, which carefully maintains the logbook (available in Chinese and English) on its website (and its Twitter account) of all violations of its airspace, with the number and type of aircraft detected by its surveillance system, published on Twitter, also as usual shows the map where they appeared.
In this case, the 30 Chinese military aircraft, including 20 fighters, entered the Air Force Identification Zone (Zida or “Adiz” for Air Defense Identification Zone) on the island in the southwestern quarter.
More or less, in the same place as during the second massive attack, the record of January 23, 2022 (see tweet below), in which 39 Chinese military aircraft entered the airspace of the nationalist island.
Very strong acceleration of violations of Taiwan airspace
Last year, Taiwan recorded a record 969 Chinese military airstrikes, according to the AFP database. more than double (+ 100%) of the 380 intake in 2020.
On October 4, 2021 alone, 56 aircraft entered Taiwan’s Adiz and 196 throughout October, beginning with Chinese National Day.
Taiwan has reported 465 incursions so far this year, an increase of almost + 50% compared to the same period last year.
One drawback though, we must not forget that Taiwan’s Adiz is much wider than its airspace and intersects at certain points with China’s own Adiz, even its territory. Which does not take anything away from the conscious nature of all these whims.
Taiwan’s aging fleet under pressure
These intrusions are putting pressure on the Taiwanese plane, which has experienced a number of fatalities in recent years. Taiwanese local media reported on Tuesday the death of a pilot whose plane crashed in Kaohsiung in the south.
Already in January, a pilot died after the accident at sea of his F-16V, the most advanced aircraft in the Taiwanese navy. In March 2021, Taipei grounded all its military aviation after two midair fighter jets collided (one dead, one missing) – the third fatal accident in less than six months. The issue of fleet renewal is therefore on the agenda, as stated in the order from Lockheed Martin in September last year.
A way for China to express its will and its dissatisfaction
Yet the “little game” of violations of Taiwanese airspace has been going on for years. This, according to observers, is one of the ways of Communist China to maintain pressure on the Chinese nationalists who withdrew to the island in 1949, and to constantly remind them of its irreconcilable desire to reintegrate this piece of territory.
But it is also a way of expressing its dissatisfaction with the Americans, who through a complex history since the 1970s have become their unofficial protectors through the dogma of “strategic ambiguity”.
Repeated diplomatic setbacks for the former Middle Kingdom
In fact, this important intrusion is taking place in a difficult context for the former Middle Empire, which has recently suffered several diplomatic setbacks.
Despite four days of intense talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had to admit his failure yesterday after representatives of 10 island nations, gathered in Fiji, rejected the comprehensive cooperation agreement that China had proposed and centered around a five-year plan to strengthen economic and security cooperation between these nations. Beijing had dangled them millions of dollars in financial aid and the prospect of access to the huge Chinese market.
President Biden’s statement that if there was pressure to push, the United States would defend Taiwan against communist China, was the right thing to say and the right thing to do.
—Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 23, 2022
A remark in stark contrast to the usual caution of the US administration in the matter of a direct military intervention, which had later been addressed by the White House, which then insisted that its policy of “strategic ambiguity” about the possibility or not of an intervention did not had changed.
But there are heated debates in Washington over whether to adopt “strategic clarity” in light of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive approach.