PLA on alert, holds drills amid US Taiwan Straits transit of US warships
Published: Aug 28, 2021 12:54 PM
Airmen assigned to an air-defense brigade with the air force under the PLA Southern Theater Command practice loading missiles onto a missile launching vehicle during a field training on August 11, 2021. ( by Pei Jun)

Airmen assigned to an air-defense brigade with the air force under the PLA Southern Theater Command practice loading missiles onto a missile launching vehicle during a field training on August 11, 2021. ( by Pei Jun)

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) stayed on high alert and closely monitored two US warships as the latter sailed through the Taiwan Straits on Friday, with the PLA also holding multiple military exercises on both sides of the Straits on the same day. 

The PLA has full control of the situation in the region, and US' provocative military activities cannot change this, experts said on Saturday.

The PLA Eastern Theater Command organized forces, tracked and monitored the USS Kidd guided missile destroyer and the USCGC Munro cutter when the two made a transit in the Taiwan Straits on Friday, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson at China's Ministry of National Defense, said in a statement on Saturday.

It marked the eighth time the US has sent warships through the Taiwan Straits and the first time a US coast guard vessel has been featured since Joe Biden assumed US presidency this year, media on the island of Taiwan reported on Saturday.

It's vile in nature that the US has repeatedly made such kinds of provocative moves, and this proves that the US is the biggest threat to peace and stability and causes the biggest security risks in the Taiwan Straits, Tan said. "We strongly oppose and condemn this."

Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and the Taiwan question is China's internal affair and no foreign interference is allowed, Tan reiterated, noting that the US should recognize this situation, stop provocations, abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, and not create obstacles to the relations between the two countries and militaries.

The Chinese military is on high alert at all time so as to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, Tan said.

On the same day US warships made the latest Taiwan Straits transit, the PLA was holding multiple military exercises near the region.

The PLA Eastern Theater Command deployed forces from multiple military services including warships, fighter bombers and fighter jets in joint patrol and sea assault drills in the East China Sea on Friday, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson of the command, said in a statement released on Saturday.

This aimed at enhancing the command troops' integrated joint combat capabilities, Shi said, noting that the command will hold similar drills routinely to meet the demands of safeguarding national sovereignty based on the surrounding situations.

A Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and two Z-8 helicopters of the PLA on Friday entered the island of Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone, with the Z-8 choppers flying close to the southern edge of the so-called middle line of the Taiwan Straits, according to a press release by the defense authority on the island Friday.

A day earlier, the island's defense authority also reported a PLA Z-9 anti-submarine warfare helicopter flying near the island.

It is rare to see PLA helicopters get mentioned in press releases by Taiwan's defense authority, and this could mean that there were large PLA landing vessels that could carry helicopters, like amphibious assault ships or amphibious landing ships, operating in the region as well, observers said.

In another PLA movement, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on Thursday spotted a PLA Navy flotilla consisting of the Type 052D destroyer Zibo, the Type 052C destroyer Zhengzhou, and the Type 054A frigate Yiyang, as they sailed through the Miyako Strait, which is between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island, and then headed into the East China Sea, returning from the voyage that saw them sailing into the Pacific Ocean from the same route on Tuesday, according to a press release by Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff on Friday.

In the air, a Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft, a Y-9 patrol aircraft and a TB-001 armed reconnaissance drone of the PLA flew through the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea on Thursday and returned on the same day, a separate press release by Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said on the day.

All these activities show that the PLA is in full control of the Taiwan Straits, as well as all other regions on the doorstep of China, a Chinese mainland military expert told the Global Times on Saturday, requesting anonymity.

In additional to the latest US warships transit in the Taiwan Straits, the US and the gangs it has rallied have been making pointed military drills against China, including the Malabar 2021 exercise in the Philippine Sea featuring forces from Australia, Japan, India and the US. The PLA's drills in the East China Sea and Pacific Ocean sent a strong message to all these provocations, the expert said.

China has been holding many exercises on its doorsteps, and this shows that China is fully capable of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity no matter who stirs up trouble, Shi Hong, executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times.