China Steps Up Taiwan Flybys as 38 Warplanes Enter Defense Zone

China Steps Up Taiwan Flybys as 38 Warplanes Enter Defense Zone

14:58 - Chinese warplanes made multiple incursions close to Taiwan Friday in the second major display of military might in two weeks.

Incursions late in the day by People’s Liberation Army aircraft pushed the tally to 38, based on statements from Taiwan’s defense ministry. There were 13 planes in the air defense identification zone in nighttime hours after 25 such flights, the ministry said. Taiwan’s military responded with radio warnings to leave and deployed air defense missile systems.

China’s latest show of force came after Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued an angry denunciation of Taipei’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, on its official Weibo account, calling his efforts to strengthen Taiwan’s international relations as nothing but “shrilling and moaning” and “the buzzing of flies.”

The statement followed Wu’s assertion that Taiwan is under constant military threat from China, including gray zone tactics and information security attacks, in a speech to the Hoover Institution earlier this week. China is attempting to lure Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and exclude it from important international organizations, Wu said.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council hit back at the TAO statement, calling it “unprecedented verbal abuse in the international community,” adding that China wasn’t qualified to handle Taiwan’s affairs.

China has increased its diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan over the past year. The Chinese air force has made more than 500 incursions into Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone in the first nine months of 2021, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told lawmakers Monday, compared with more than 300 a year in the past.

Friday’s flights included sorties by 18 J-16s -- a China-built strike fighter -- and four SU-30s, the Taiwan defense ministry said in a statement. The SU-30 fighter is built by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corp. and is used in multiple roles.

Twenty-four People’s Liberation Army aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone last week, one day after Taiwan announced it had requested to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. China’s air force sent 28 aircraft close to Taiwan in the biggest sortie this year in June.