Taiwan's defense chief links Beijing's incursions to ADIZ plan

11/04/2020 07:25 PM
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Defense Minister Yen De-fa. CNA photo Nov. 4, 2020
Defense Minister Yen De-fa. CNA photo Nov. 4, 2020

Taipei, Nov. 4 (CNA) The frequent incursions of Chinese military planes into Taiwan's southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) could be part of China's plans to set up an ADIZ in the South China Sea, according to Taiwan's defense chief.

In a legislative hearing on Wednesday, Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said China could be attempting to "regularize" its military aircraft's operations in that part of the region to establish its own ADIZ there.

The airspace in which Chinese military aircraft have been active over recent months is located on the northern corner of China's planned ADIZ, Yen said.

To date, a total of 276 Chinese military planes have entered the airspace between southwest Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands since January, according to Yen.

Other possible steps related to the possible creation of an ADIZ in the South China Sea include the militarization of artificial islands built over the past decade and the establishment of administrative units in the area, such as the Xisha and Nansha districts, Yen said, in response to lawmakers' questions.

Meanwhile, Chinese military planes' frequent operations in airspace southeast of Taiwan, adjacent to the strategic Bashi Channel, could be part of their submarine detection training, Yen said.

As for the situation in the Taiwan Strait as the U.S. presidential election is being held, Yen said the risk of a Chinese military offensive against Taiwan is low at the moment, citing the Defense Ministry's assessment.

He did not elaborate, saying only that Taiwan's military closely monitors the movement of Chinese military planes every day and will respond accordingly.

Seth Cropsey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, warned in an article on the news website The Hill on Sept. 17 that the Chinese military could take advantage of possible confusion caused by the U.S. election to "strike" Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Yen also told legislators that arms deals reached between Taiwan and the U.S. during President Donald Trump's first term will not be affected regardless of the U.S. election outcome because of his belief that the U.S. will have policy continuity and will honor signed contracts.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim) enditem/ls

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