Taiwan reports new large-scale air force incursion by China

Jan 23, 2022: According to a report by Al Jazeera, Taiwan has reported the largest incursion since October by China’s air force into its air defence zone, with the island’s defence ministry saying Taiwanese fighters scrambled to warn away 39 aircraft in the latest uptick in tensions

Taiwan has complained for more than a year about repeated Chinese air missions near the Democratic Republic of the island, often in its air defense identification zone, or in the southwestern part of ADIZ, near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

Taiwan calls China’s recurring close military activity a “gray zone” war, designed to wear out Taiwan’s forces, and to test Taiwan’s response. Taiwan’s ministry said the latest Chinese mission included 34 fighter jets, four electronic warplanes and a bomber.

According to a map provided by the ministry, the plane flew over an area northeast of Pratas. The ministry said in a statement late Sunday that the Taiwan Air Force had issued a radio warning and its air defense missile system had been activated.

There was no immediate comment from China, which has said in the past that such measures are aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty. China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan to recognize its sovereignty claims. The Taiwanese government says it wants peace but will defend itself if an attack occurs.

Sunday’s incursion was the largest by Chinese warplanes since October 4, when a record 56 aircraft were discovered in Taiwan’s air defense zone. In the four-day period starting October 1, Taiwan reported 148 Chinese Air Force aircraft in the southern and southwestern parts of its air defense zone, the same day that China celebrated an important patriotic holiday, National Day.

Prior to the latest incursion, Beijing had sent 70 Chinese warplanes to Taiwan’s air defense zone in 17 days since the start of the new year.

No shots have been fired and the Chinese aircraft have not been flying in Taiwan’s airspace, but in its ADIZ, a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.

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