China flanks Taiwan with air and sea military exercises


The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its escorts were conducting maneuvers around Taiwan, the Chinese military said in a statement on Monday.

“It was a routine training exercise organized in accordance with the annual work plan to test the effectiveness of the training of the troops and strengthen their ability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, at least 10 People’s Liberation Army fighter jets, including four J-16 and four J-10 fighter jets, one Y-8 anti-submarine warplane and one KJ-500 early warning plane, entered the Taiwan self-declared air defense identification zone. (ADIZ), according to the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense.

The US Federal Aviation Administration defines an ADIZ as “a designated area of ​​airspace over land or water within which a country requires immediate and positive identification, location, and air traffic control of aircraft in the interest of the national security of the country “.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had “a complete understanding” of the situation and was “handling the matter properly”, Reuters reported.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of nearly 24 million people located off the southeast coast of mainland China, even though the two sides have been ruled separately for more than seven decades.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised that Beijing will never allow the island to become formally independent and has refused to rule out the use of force, if necessary, to take the island back.

Tensions over Taiwan have escalated in recent months as Taipei has garnered US support in the form of new military equipment, an agreement between the US and Taiwanese coast guards, and strong statements of support. from the administration of US President Joe Biden.

“We are committed to deepening ties with Taiwan,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week.

Last month, after talks with Japanese leaders and diplomats, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Washington and Tokyo were prepared to reject Chinese threats to stability and order in Asia.

“China uses coercion and aggression to systematically erode autonomy in Hong Kong, undermine democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and enforce maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law.” Blinken said.

“We will roll back if necessary when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way.”

A ‘warning’ from Beijing

China’s maneuvers on Monday demonstrated its military superiority over Taiwan, Shi Hong, chief executive editor of the Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, said in a Global Times report.

“The exercise showed that the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) is capable of surrounding the island of Taiwan, isolating its troops and leaving them with nowhere to run and no chance of winning if circumstances arise,” Shi said.

The exercises also sent a message to both the United States and Japan, Shi added. Given that any American and Japanese military intervention would likely come from the east, China, by exercising its carrier group there, demonstrated that it could cut off that aid, Shi said.

Western analysts said China did not demonstrate any new capabilities in Monday’s exercises.

Indeed, a Chinese aircraft carrier in the open Pacific could take advantage of one of the US Navy’s strengths: Its nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), said Thomas Shugart, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. and former Captain of the US Navy.

“A Chinese aircraft carrier operating east of Taiwan is not particularly valuable if used like this, as it could be quite vulnerable operating so far away, in SSN-infested deep waters and beyond China’s integrated SAM / air defense umbrella,” Shugart said.

But the Chinese military made a political statement, analysts said.

“It is intended to be a warning to Taiwanese and others that Beijing felt undermined its interests, not least the Americans,” said Collin Koh, a researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Koh notes that a group of PLA Navy aircraft carriers have operated east of Taiwan at least twice before.

And the presence of large numbers of PLA aircraft at Taiwan’s ADIZ is becoming more common.
In late March, 20 PLA ​​fighter jets entered Taiwan’s ADIZ in one day, according to the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense. It is the highest number since last year, when Taiwan began to reveal almost daily flights of Chinese jets to its airspace.

That Chinese activity is expected to continue. The PLA said in its statement that carrier operations like the one organized on Monday would occur on a regular basis.

US carrier operates in the South China Sea

While the Chinese carrier was conducting exercises off Taiwan, a US Navy carrier strike group was conducting its own operations. in the South China Sea.

The US Seventh Fleet said the USS Theodore Roosevelt and her escorts entered the South China Sea on Sunday for routine operations, the Roosevelt’s second such visit to the area this year.
A US Navy F / A-18E Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on April 5, 2021, during operations in the South China Sea.

“It is fantastic to be back in the South China Sea to assure our allies and partners that we remain committed to the freedom of the seas,” Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo, commander of Carrier Strike Group Nine, said in a statement.

“While in the South China Sea, the strike group will carry out fixed and rotary wing flight operations, maritime strike exercises, anti-submarine operations, coordinated tactical training and more,” the Seventh Fleet statement said.

Beijing claims nearly the entire 1.3 million-square-mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory and in recent years has built military fortifications on several islands.

He says the presence of foreign military forces such as the US Carrier Strike Group is fueling tensions in the region.

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