© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese and Taiwanese flags are displayed alongside a military airplane in this illustration taken April 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration//File Photo/File Photo
By Sarah Wu
TAIPEI (Reuters) – China’s military is trying to wear out Taiwan’s armed forces with its repeated missions nearby, but Taiwan is capable of responding, Taipei’s defence minister said on Monday after a renewed spike in Chinese air force activity.
Taiwan scrambled fighters again on Sunday after 27 Chinese air force planes again entered its air defence identification zone, or ADIZ.
“Their intention is to slowly exhaust, to let you know that we have this power,” Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told reporters on the sidelines of a parliamentary briefing for lawmakers, when asked about the latest incursion.
“Our national forces have shown that, while you may have this power, we have countermeasures.”
Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force near the democratically governed island and in its ADIZ – not its territorial air space, but a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.
Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force, calls China’s activities “grey zone” warfare.
Chiu, who described the situation as “very serious”, said Taiwan will continue to analyse the types of aircraft China uses to inform future plans.
The latest Chinese mission included 18 fighters jets plus five nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, as well as, unusually, a Y-20 aerial refuelling aircraft, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said.
The bombers and six of the fighters flew to the south of Taiwan into the Bashi Channel which separates the island from the Philippines, then out into the Pacific before heading back to China, according to a map the ministry provided.
Those aircraft were accompanied by the refuelling aircraft, suggesting China refuelled the shorter-ranged fighters inflight, a skill the country’s air force is still working to hone to enable it to project power further from China’s shores.
Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn away the Chinese aircraft, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, the ministry said.
China has previously said such missions are designed to protect the country’s sovereignty.
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