TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two Chinese military warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Thursday evening (Jan. 28), marking the 24th such intrusion this month.
Two People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Chengdu J-10 fighter jets briefly entered the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND). In response, the Taiwanese military scrambled fighter jets, issued radio warnings, and deployed air defense missile systems to track the Chinese planes.
Since mid-September of last year, Beijing has been regularly sending planes into the ADIZ, with most instances occurring in the southwest corner and consisting of one to three aircraft, usually reconnaissance planes.
However, last Saturday (Jan. 23), as the U.S. Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group entered the disputed South China Sea to promote “freedom of the seas,” China sent 13 aircraft — including eight Xian H-6K bombers — into Taiwan’s identification zone. The following day (Jan. 24), Beijing sent 15 planes on sorties into the zone.
When asked about last weekend’s increased military activity, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian (吳謙) lashed out at Taiwan, threatening “independence means war,” Reuters reported. He said, “The military activities carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait are necessary actions to address the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security.”
Wu further stated: “They are a solemn response to external interference and provocations by ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.” He then issued a warning that “those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war.”
In response, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said Beijing should think carefully and not underestimate the country’s determination to defend its sovereignty and uphold freedom and democracy. The U.S. Pentagon reaffirmed its longstanding support for Taiwan’s self-defense on Thursday.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said there is no reason tensions between Taiwan and China “need to lead to anything like confrontation.” Kirby stated the U.S. is obligated to contribute to Taiwan's defense, adding “I think you’re going to see that continue.”
Flight path of Chinese planes on Jan. 28 (MND image)