CHINA / POLITICS
PLA holds record-breaking drill near Taiwan island on National Day, 'routine but significant'
Published: Oct 02, 2021 11:02 AM Updated: Oct 02, 2021 10:20 PM
A J-16 fighter jet attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Eastern Theater Command soars into the sky during multiple training sorties on February 16, 2021. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Li Yehong)

A J-16 fighter jet attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Eastern Theater Command soars into the sky during multiple training sorties on February 16, 2021. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Li Yehong)

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly dispatched a record-breaking number of 38 warplanes, mostly fighters and bombers, near the island of Taiwan for exercise on Friday with activities during both day and night on Friday.

The PLA exercise was a routine one despite taking place on the National Day in the mainland, but it showed the increasing combat preparedness and determination of the PLA over the island of Taiwan, Chinese mainland experts said on Saturday.

25 PLA aircraft, namely 18 J-16 fighter jets, four Su-30 fighter jets, two H-6 bombers and a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, entered the island of Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on Friday, Taiwan's defense authorities said in a press release on the day.

Later on Friday, Taiwan's defense authorities published a separate press release, saying that at night, 13 additional PLA aircraft, namely 10 J-16 fighter jets, two H-6 bombers and a KJ-500 early warning aircraft, entered the island of Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone. The J-16s and the H-6s went on and circled to the southeast side of the island, before returning to the mainland, the press release show.

This means a total of 38 PLA aircraft were involved in the PLA exercise near the island of Taiwan on Friday, breaking the previous record of 28 aircraft on June 15.

The PLA is increasing the scale of exercises near the island of Taiwan, and this is normal and routine, Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Saturday.

The PLA needs more deployment to deter the armed forces on the island and foreign interference, so it is necessary that related drills become of larger scale, Song said.

Both day and night are time a battle can take place, so the PLA must be ready to fight and win even during nighttime, Song said, noting that the PLA's capabilities in this aspect are being boosted significantly.

Friday is National Day in the mainland, and the PLA's exercise displayed its capability in safeguarding national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a very practical way to celebrate the day, Song said.

On the same day on Friday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released its conversation with Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense, during which the US senior official said the US is monitoring the situation on the island of Taiwan very carefully and the US has “a significant amount of capability forward in the region to tamp down” the mainland’s military actions toward the island. 

However, experts warned that if a military conflict does break out over the Taiwan Straits, the selfish opportunists – the US may retreat once they see no way to reap the benefits, just like they did in Afghanistan. And the Chinese mainland has sufficient means and strong capabilities to solve the Taiwan question once and for all.
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