China manoeuvres near Taiwan fuel concerns of potential attack.

China has stepped up its military posturing around Taiwan over the past week, a trend that is set to fuel growing concerns that Beijing might move closer to attacking the island.

Taiwan and Japan on Monday both reported incursions into their respective air defence identification zones (ADIZ) , the first simultaneous announcement from Taipei and Tokyo.

Taiwan said that 10 Chinese military aircraft, including fighters and an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, had flown into its ADIZ, while Japan recorded an ASW plane inside its zone just east of Taiwan.

The parallel manoeuvres followed the largest ever incursion into Taiwan’s air defence zone last Friday, when 20 Chinese aircraft, including bombers and fighters, entered the area.

The forays came as Washington begins to look at the growing risk of a war over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its sovereign territory.

Senior US officials fear that China is flirting with the idea of seizing control of Taiwan, a scenario that would almost certainly drag in Washington and some of its allies.

Monday’s incursions also followed the arrival in Taiwan of the US ambassador to Palau, alongside the Pacific island nation’s president. Palau is one of 15 countries that have diplomatic relations with Taipei rather than Beijing, and the visit was an unusually bold move compared with the restraint Washington has long practised with regard to sending its diplomats to Taiwan.

Friday’s manoeuvres came after the US and Taiwan announced an agreement under which their coast guards would co-operate.

Sorties

Some experts interpreted the Chinese military’s moves as a gradual step-up but agreed that the manoeuvres also featured new patterns of behaviour.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has flown more regular sorties into the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defence zone, where the Taiwan Strait meets the Bashi Channel, since last summer. This is a crucial corridor for the Chinese military into the open waters and airspace of the western Pacific.

The territory would be essential for submarine warfare in any conflict over Taiwan, which explains why anti-submarine warfare aircraft have been involved in most of the almost-daily incursions. However, while the forays usually consisted of short, straight flights in and out of the ADIZ, ASW aircraft flew all the way past the southern tip of Taiwan into the western Pacific and back over the past week.

“These latest [incursions] are more about political messaging than about military operational significance,” said Admiral Lee Hsi-ming, former chief of the general staff of Taiwan’s armed forces. “Flying around Taiwan is not a breakthrough for them. They operated circular flights with H6 bombers when I was in office.

“I believe that this time they did not have enough time to prepare,” Lee added. “So in order to express their determination towards the US, they flew out into the western Pacific but did not do a full circle.”

Escalation

Some analysts, however, saw the latest moves as an escalation.

“Y-8 and Y-9 aircraft have not done this before,” said Su Tzu-yun, an analyst at the Institute for National Defence and Security Research, a think-tank backed by Taiwan’s defence ministry, referring to the ASW flights. “We are going to see more of that as they start to expand the scope of their regular operations from the southwest of Taiwan to the southeast.”

The incursion reported by Japan also followed an unprecedented approach. A patrol aircraft and a surveillance plane flew in a northern direction off Taiwan’s east coast before turning back and leaving Japan’s ADIZ through the Miyako Strait, Tokyo said.

The Miyako Islands, a tiny archipelago between Okinawa and Taiwan, have been a hotspot for Chinese air force manoeuvres in recent years because the Strait – as with the Bashi Channel – is one of the PLA’s main air and sea corridors to the open Pacific. Four of the five Chinese air incursions reported by Japan over the past year have occurred in this area.

In previous manoeuvres Chinese aircraft flew only relatively short sorties to the southeast of the Miyako Islands before turning back. Monday’s flights marked the first time they had flown so close to Taiwan’s east coast, where the largest hardened shelters for protecting military aircraft against missile and air attacks are located in a mountainside in the town of Hualien.

“With its regular operations in the southwestern corner of Taiwan ADIZ, the PLA has already changed the status quo and asserted that ‘this is my backyard’. They have even included this area in their annual training plan,” said Lee.

People familiar with Taipei’s military strategy said if the PLA expanded a regular presence to the airspace east of Taiwan, it would undermine the island’s security in a much more drastic manner. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Americans adjust to life after lockdown

Americans adjust to life after lockdown

At least 45 states have completely reopened after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Now, many Americans are facing uncertainty about how to navigate public life this summer. Clinical and public safety psychologist Dr. Katherine Kuhlman joined CBSN'...

Hannity: New York Times should give Pulitzer back for malpractice.

Hannity: New York Times should give Pulitzer back for malpractice.

'Hannity' host takes aim at 'full time Donald Trump stalker' Maggie Haberman for weighted coverage. #FoxNews #Hannity Tucker Carlson Tonight' host discusses the CNN host claiming US is a 'racist country' while living in community lacking diversity...

Gutfeld: Media says violence is 'silliest concern'

Gutfeld: Media says violence is 'silliest concern'

'Gutfeld!' panel reacts to NYC prosecutors dropping hundreds of cases and CNN's coverage of ongoing crime surge. #FoxNews #Gutfeld Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour a...

Andrew Yang explains why he's joining forces with opponent.

Andrew Yang explains why he's joining forces with opponent.

New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer why he is joining forces with other candidates and campaigning alongside them. #CNN #News

Democrat lawmaker exposed as being member of an all-white beach club.

Democrat lawmaker exposed as being member of an all-white beach club.

Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo joins Laura Ingraham for a midweek edition of 'Seen and Unseen' discussing Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's membership to a Rhode Island beachclub. #FoxNews #Ingraham Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: W...

Father goes viral for take down of 'toxic' critical race theory.

Father goes viral for take down of 'toxic' critical race theory.

Illinois father Ty Smith joins 'The Ingraham Angle' to discuss the toxic ideology of critical race theory. #FoxNews #Ingraham Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-en...