In what is being described as Communist China’s largest-ever incursion in Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), Taiwan scrambled dozens of aircraft when 38 Chinese fighter planes in two waves flew close to the island nation.
Communist China is marking the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and it’s not unusual for them to rattle Taiwan’s cage to honor the occasion. What’s unusual is the makeup of the warplanes.
The first wave of incursions comprised 18 J-16 and four Su-30 fighter jets plus two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft, while the second had 10 J-16s, 2 H-6s and an early warning aircraft, the ministry said.
The J-16 fighter is the latest carrier-based fighter aircraft in the Chinese arsenal. The Chinese are showing they are capable of launching a coordinated operation from land and sea-based platforms — something that would be necessary for an assault on Taiwan.
“This is how the PLA chooses to celebrate its National Day — military coercion,” Drew Thompson, a former US Defense Department official and a visiting senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, posted on Twitter.
“PLAAF sorties are pretty routine at this point, but stepping up bomber flights on a major PRC (People’s Republic of China) holiday underscores that this is political warfare and part of a massive coercion campaign,” Thompson told CNN.
There is a very real purpose to the Chinese incursions that aren’t some elaborate psy-ops game.
“Xi Jinping has instructed the PLA to heighten its readiness and prepare for warfighting under ‘realistic fighting conditions.’ Hence, it is relatively unsurprising that the PLA continues to fly into Taiwan’s ADIZ as part of realistic training and preparation for armed conflict,” Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation policy think tank, told CNN on Saturday.
But the psy-ops games continue anyway. The Chinese foreign ministry invoked the words of Mao Zedong when criticizing Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu for his international speeches condemning Beijing interference and touting Taiwan’s independent status. The ministry denounced Wu as a “shrilling” fly for his efforts to promote Taiwan internationally.
“Following the trend of national rejuvenation and unification, various ‘Taiwan independence’ forces are like grasshoppers after autumn. All types of ‘Taiwan independence’ speeches are nothing but flies ‘buzzing around’,” it said.
Comparing anyone to an insect is considered the ultimate insult in China. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council fired back and accused Beijing of using “extremely despicable language” to slander Wu.
Beijing is seriously probing Taiwan’s defenses now as well as measuring the depth of support the U.S. holds for Taiwan. China doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks. But what if they sense a weakening of commitment to Taiwan’s independence from Biden? Or any Democrat that would replace him?
If China ever believed they could get away with absorbing Taiwan without anything more than protests from the U.S., Taiwan will likely join Hong Kong as a formerly independent province of China.