CHINA / MILITARY
PLA fighter bombers cross Taiwan Straits 'middle line,' deter secessionists following US warship transit: analysts
Published: May 21, 2021 04:58 PM Updated: May 21, 2021 10:58 PM
Fighter jets attached to an aviation brigade with the navy under the PLA Southern Theater Command take off for a round-the-clock training exercise on April 20, 2021. Photo: China Military Online

Fighter jets attached to an aviation brigade with the navy under the PLA Southern Theater Command take off for a round-the-clock training exercise on April 20, 2021. Photo: China Military Online

 

In a move that Chinese mainland analysts said on Friday created a strong deterrent to Taiwan secessionists who were wrongly encouraged by a US warship transit in the Taiwan Straits two days ago, two Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) fighter bombers that excel at anti-ship and land attack reportedly flew across the so-called middle line in the Straits on Thursday.

Four PLA aircraft, namely two JH-7 fighter bombers, a Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft and a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, entered the island of Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on Thursday, the island's defense authorities said in a statement on the day.

While the PLA has been conducting routine exercises in the region for months, it is uncommon to see two JH-7 fighter bombers flying across the so-called middle line, tipping it on its southern edge, media on the island of Taiwan reported on Thursday, also citing the island's defense authorities.

The "middle line" is a non-existent line that some on the island wishfully think divides the Taiwan Straits into the mainland side and Taiwan island side. The Chinese mainland does not recognize this line, as both sides are China, analysts said.

The JH-7 fighter bombers' exercise on Thursday could serve as a powerful warning and a strong deterrent to Taiwan secessionist forces as well as a response to the Taiwan Straits transit of the USS Curtis Wilbur two days ago, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Friday, requesting anonymity.

JH-7 fighter bombers are specially designed for anti-ship and land attack missions, and their participation in related exercises, crossing the "middle line," indicated higher combat preparedness, the expert said.

By sending the destroyer through the Straits, the US sent the wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces, and the PLA Eastern Theater Command organized forces, tracked and monitored the US ship through its entire course on high alert, said Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, spokesperson of the command, in a statement released on Wednesday.

Taiwan secessionists must understand that some occasional transits of US warships mean nothing compared to the PLA's almost daily exercises, a clear illustration that the US cannot win a war against the PLA on China's doorsteps, and the US will have a hard time supporting Taiwan secessionists, analysts said.

In response to US warship's recent provocative voyages, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson at the Chinese Defense Ministry, said in a statement on Thursday that the PLA will take all necessary measures to deal with all threats and provocations, and firmly safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.


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