20 Chinese planes enter Taiwan's ADIZ after coast guard pact signed

03/26/2021 10:42 PM
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A PLA H-6K bomber. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense
A PLA H-6K bomber. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense

Taipei, March 26 (CNA) A total of 20 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Friday, including bombers and fighter jets, after Taipei and Washington signed an accord to strengthen maritime cooperation.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft involved in the mission were 10 J-16 multirole fighters, two J-10 multirole fighters, four H-6K bombers, two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes, one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control plane and one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance plane, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a report the same day.

The Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes and the H-6K bombers almost took a half-circle in airspace near southern Taiwan while the others operated in the airspace between Taiwan and the Taiwanese-controlled Dongsha Islands, a chart provided by the MND showed.

The airspace is considered by Taiwan as part of its ADIZ, which is declared by a country to allow it to identify, locate and control approaching foreign aircraft, but such zones are not recognized under international laws.

Taiwan's Air Force responded by scrambling planes to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issuing radio warnings and mobilizing air defense assets until the Chinese planes left the area, the MND said.

Friday's show of force was the biggest in terms of the number of planes deployed since the MND began to make public PLA aircraft's movements near Taiwan in mid-September 2020.

It came after Taiwan and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a Coast Guard Working Group (CGWG) in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

The accord was seen by some analysts in Taiwan as both countries' response to China's recent passage of the Coast Guard Law, which allows the country's coast guard ships to use weapons under certain conditions against foreign vessels operating in waters claimed by China as its territory.

The last time Taiwan saw a large number of PLA planes entering its ADIZ zone was on Feb. 19 (nine planes), when two U.S. lawmakers reintroduced a bill in the Senate and the House to deter Beijing from using force against Taiwan, and on the following day (11 planes).

China also sent numerous planes to the southern part of the ADIZ the first weekend after U.S. President Joe Biden was inaugurated in what was widely interpreted as Beijing trying to send a message to Biden to not repeat his predecessor Donald Trump's stepped up support for Taiwan.

China wants to peacefully unify with Taiwan, which it sees as part of one country, and has threatened to use force to crush steps towards formal independence.

(By Emerson Lim)

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