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DEFENSE/Taiwan reports record number of military incursions, urges China to stop 'harassment'

09/18/2023 11:48 AM
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A J-11 fighter jet. Photo taken from the Ministry of National Defense's website
A J-11 fighter jet. Photo taken from the Ministry of National Defense's website

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Monday called for China to immediately halt its "unilateral military harassment," after a record 103 Chinese military aircraft were detected around Taiwan in a 24-hour period that ended earlier in the day.

In a statement, the MND said that in addition to the 103 warplanes, nine warships were also spotted in areas close to Taiwan, between 6 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday.

Of the 103 military aircraft, 40 crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the southwestern and southeastern parts of Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ), the ministry said.

The MND said it scrambled planes to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issued radio warnings, mobilized combat air and naval patrols, and deployed defense missile systems to track the Chinese warplanes.

An ADIZ is a self-declared area in which a country claims the right to identify, locate and control approaching foreign aircraft but is not part of its territorial airspace as defined by international law.

The number of Chinese military aircraft detected near Taiwan in a 24-hour-period broke the record set in April, when 91 warplanes flew close to Taiwan between 6 a.m. on April 10 and 6 a.m. the next day.

On Monday, the MND said that ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait was key to maintaining security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, which is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including Beijing.

Beijing should shoulder its responsibility and immediately stop its "unilateral military harassment," as such actions could escalate tensions, erode regional peace, and disrupt regional stability, the MND said.

Meanwhile, Chieh Chung (揭仲), an associate research fellow at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, told CNA Monday that July to September is usually the most active time of year for Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) drills, and he suspected that the record 103 warplanes were part of a PLA exercise on the open seas.

Chieh said he did not think the incursions were meant to coincide with the meeting between China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to United States President Joe Biden, in Malta last weekend.

If that were the case, it would expose a lack of coordination between China's foreign affairs and military branches, he said.

During the multiple meetings between Wang and Sullivan on Sept. 16 and 17, they held "candid, substantive and constructive" talks, according to separate statements released Sunday by the U.S. White House and the Chinese foreign ministry.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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