CHINA / MILITARY
UPDATE: PLA sends 'record-breaking 56 aircraft near Taiwan island in a single day' in consecutive drills
Published: Oct 04, 2021 10:25 PM
A H-6 strategic bomber attached to a bomber regiment of the naval aviation force under the PLA Southern Theater Command takes off for a recent realistic flight training exercise. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Gao Hongwei)

A H-6 strategic bomber attached to a bomber regiment of the naval aviation force under the PLA Southern Theater Command takes off for a recent realistic flight training exercise. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Gao Hongwei)


 
For the third time in just four days, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) again broke its record in the number of aircraft dispatched for drills near the island of Taiwan in a single day on Monday, sending a whopping 56 warplanes consisting mainly of fighters and bombers, a day after the US voiced “concern” over the Chinese mainland’s military activity near the island, claiming it was provocative.

The US statement sent a very wrong and irresponsible signal, and China will take all measures necessary to crush any “Taiwan independence” attempts, Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Military analysts said that the PLA drill on the day is a strong warning to both secessionists and their foreign supporters.

The 52 PLA aircraft, namely 34 J-16 fighter jets, two Su-30 fighter jets, two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, two KJ-500 early warning aircraft and 12 H-6 bombers, entered the island of Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on Monday daytime, Taiwan's defense authorities stated in a press release published the same day.

Four more J-16 fighter jets entered the area at Monday night, Taiwan's defense authorities stated in another press release published later on the day.

According to the flight paths released by Taiwan's defense authorities, the PLA aircraft were active in areas between the island of Taiwan and the Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea.

The combat group of 56 marked a new record-high in the number of PLA warplanes taking part in the drills near the island of Taiwan in a day, surpassing the previous record of 39 which was just set two days ago and 38 set three days ago.

At least 149 PLA warplanes have joined exercises near the island of Taiwan since the start of the National Day holiday on Friday, during both days and nights, according to releases by the island’s defense authorities.

Monday’s exercise came after the US Department of State released a press statement on Sunday, voicing “concern” over the Chinese mainland’s military activity near the island of Taiwan, claiming it was provocative.

In response to the statement, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson from China’s Foreign Ministry, said on Monday that Taiwan is part of China, and the US has no right to make irresponsible comments on the Taiwan question.

The US statement severely violates the one-China principle and three China-US joint communiqués, and sends very wrong and irresponsible signals, Hua said, noting that the US has been making aggressive moves including arms sales to Taiwan, landing military aircraft on the island and sending warships through the Taiwan Straits.

China will take all measures necessary to crush any “Taiwan independence” attempts, Hua said. “‘Taiwan independence’ is doomed to fail.”

The PLA’s continued drills showed that China has the total control over the region, and sent a powerful warning to the secessionists and their foreign supporters, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Monday, requesting anonymity.

More PLA aircraft and vessels will train near the island, increasing preparedness to carry out missions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity should it become necessary, the expert said.

According to monitoring by the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing-based think tank, the US, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand recently held multinational joint naval drills in the Philippines Sea, involving three aircraft carriers, the USS Carl Vinson, the USS Ronald Reagan and the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Citing commercial satellite imagery, the SCSPI said that the HMS Queen Elizabeth on Monday sailed through the Bashi Channel, located to the south of the island of Taiwan, into the South China Sea, likely together with the USS Carl Vinson, as an aircraft based on the US carrier was also spotted.

The PLA’s record-breaking exercises could also be related to the movements of these aircraft carriers, analysts said.

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