The Taiwanese Air Force made more than double the effort in 2020 to intercept Chinese planes crossing the island’s air buffer zone.
Taiwan’s military has launched planes to intercept Chinese planes more than twice as often in 2020 as in all of last year, the island’s Ministry of Defense said Tuesday. Beijing creates a serious security challenge for the self-governing island.
In a report to parliament, a copy of which was scrutinized by Reuters news agency, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said the Air Force had mixed up 4,132 times so far this year, a 129 percent increase from 2019, according to Reuters calculations.
China “is trying to use unilateral military action to change the security status quo in the strait while testing our response, increasing pressure on our air defenses and reducing our scope for activity,” it said.
Beijing claims that democratic Taiwan is part of its territory and has stepped up its military activities near the island since Tsai Ing-wen was first elected president in 2016. The maneuvers have increased since she took a second term in January and the United States stepped down in support for the island.
In the past few weeks, Chinese fighter jets have crossed the cross-strait center line, which normally serves as an official buffer between the island and the mainland, and have flown in Taiwan’s southwest air defense zone.
The rapid development of the Chinese military has been accompanied by “targeted” military actions against Taiwan, the ministry added.
China was particularly angry at the US’s growing support for Taiwan, including senior US officials visiting the island, which has led to tension between the two countries.
Taiwan’s military modernization
While Taiwan is numerically unable to compete with China’s armed forces, President Tsai has overseen a military modernization program aimed at making the island’s armed forces more agile and Taiwan more difficult to attack.
Tsai rejects Beijing’s view that Taiwan – self-governing for 70 years and one of the most dynamic democracies in the region – is part of “One China”.
In September Taiwan called on China to withdraw, accusing Beijing of threatening the peace following the recent air and naval incursions.
The Taiwanese President Tsai presented the newly built Indigenous Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) of the island named “Yung Yin” or “Brave Eagle” in the city of Taichung in June [Ritchie B Tongo/EPA]At a defense conference between Taiwan and the US late Monday, Vice Defense Minister Chang Guan-chung said China had stepped up what he called “realistic training against Taiwan”.
“We are designing systems that are small, numerous, intelligent, stealthy, fast, mobile, inexpensive, viable, effective, easy to develop, maintain and maintain, and difficult to identify and combat,” he said.
Chang called for increased cooperation with the US beyond arms sales, saying it would further stimulate Taiwan’s defense reform and military modernization.
“We will also highlight the joint efforts in terms of training, operational concepts, skills assessment, information sharing and armaments cooperation. These are just as important as purchasing hardware, ”he said.