Taiwan’s defense ministry issued a stern call to China on Monday, urging an end to “destructive, unilateral actions” in response to a significant escalation in Chinese military activities near the island.
This development raised concerns over a potential spike in regional tensions.
China, asserting its sovereignty claims over Taiwan, has consistently conducted military exercises around the island in recent years.
The ministry disclosed that it had observed an alarming 103 Chinese military aircraft in the vicinity of Taiwan since Sunday, marking an unusually high number.
In the past 24 hours, Chinese fighter jets breached the median line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary that China had rarely crossed until a year ago.
Additionally, other aircraft traversed south of Taiwan through the Bashi Channel, which separates the island from the Philippines.
Taiwan’s defense ministry expressed deep concern, stating that China’s actions had posed “serious challenges” to the security of the strait and the broader region.
It emphasized that maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is a shared responsibility among all regional stakeholders.
The ministry warned that the persistent military provocations by the Chinese Communist military could easily escalate tensions and undermine regional security, calling upon Beijing to take responsibility and cease such unilateral actions immediately.
As of now, China’s defense ministry has not responded to requests for comment regarding these recent developments.
In addition to the increased air force activity near Taiwan, China deployed over 100 naval ships for exercises in the region during the previous week.
These exercises extended into strategic waters in the South China Sea and off the northeastern coast of Taiwan, marking the largest naval exercises in the region in years, according to an unnamed regional security official.
Taiwan’s defense ministry highlighted that the period from July to September typically witnesses heightened Chinese military drills along its coast.
Military researcher Chieh Chung of Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation think tank suggested that while there may not be an overt “political motivation” behind these drills, China appears to be pressuring Taiwan with longer missions across the median line.
China is also enhancing its capability to operate fighters further at sea, as demonstrated by the inclusion of Y-20 aerial refueling aircraft accompanying fighter jets.
Moreover, China continues to bolster its air power facing Taiwan, with a permanent deployment of new fighters and drones at expanded air bases, as reported by Taiwan’s defense ministry in its biennial report earlier this month.