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Retired general claims Chinese warplanes are not harassing Taiwan

Chi claims skies over Dongsha Islands are 'international airspace'

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Chi Lin-liang in front of Liberty Square. (Chi Lin-liang photo)

Chi Lin-liang in front of Liberty Square. (Chi Lin-liang photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A retired Taiwanese general on Tuesday (Oct.19) claimed that China's warplanes are not harassing Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and that the skies over the Dongsha Islands are "international airspace."

During an interview with political critic Huang Kuang-chin (黃光芹) on Tuesday, a retired army lieutenant general and head of the Kuomintang's Huang Fu-shin branch, Chi Lin-liang (季麟連), said that amid the uproar over increased incursions by Chinese warplanes into Taiwan's ADIZ, what is being missed is that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has "expanded the scope of its exercises from near-shore defense to offshore or even far seas." Chi claimed that the scale of the exercises and number of aircraft are simply larger than Taiwan's.

He asserted that the larger scope of the drills and numbers of warplanes involved do not constitute "harassment" and claimed that Taiwan's government is making people panic unnecessarily.

Chi criticized President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) administration for saying that PLA "enemy planes are flying over our heads." He then questioned the definition of airspace.

The former general boasted that "even elementary school students know" that only the skies over territory and territorial waters fit the definition of airspace. Chi argued that flights by People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft over the Dongsha Islands do not represent an intrusion because the skies over the island are "international airspace, anyone can go, we can go, they can come."

He called on the government to not release biased reports and mislead the public. According to Chi, the Taiwanese military carries out the same kind of combat readiness training by air and by sea on a daily basis.

When Chinese military aircraft approach Taiwan's ADIZ, "it's inevitable that we would respond." As for media reports with audio of verbal confrontations between Taiwanese and Chinese pilots over the ADIZ, Chi said, "They don't seem very accurate."

Chi stated, "Everyone knows that the PLA has long possessed the ability and combat power to capture Taiwan." His theory as to why China has not attacked is because it has yet to achieve Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities.

He explained that anti-access applies to U.S. military intervention in the Taiwan Strait, while Area Denial is preventing Japan from sending forces to the strait. The retired Marine commander said that these two requirements have not yet been met.

Taiwan is so small, he said, and what the PLA is really fixated on are the many fleets deployed by other countries in the South China Sea. Based on his expertise in amphibious operations as a Marine, Chi said that the difficulties, complexities, and challenges of pulling off an invasion of Taiwan are too great.

Chi believed that because of the dangers of the Taiwan Strait, the PLA will be unable to establish the logistical support needed for such a massive landing of troops. It is for this reason he said that he does not believe the PLA has the capability to land troops on Taiwan.

He emphasized that deploying large numbers of military troops does not equate to war and that "what they (PLA) pursue is peace." He added that "Although they don't want war, one needs to be able to fight to achieve peace, and so it is necessary to consolidate the military."