US warns China to stop 'provocative' military flights near Taiwan
US warns China to stop provoking Taiwan after Beijing sent 77 aircraft including nuclear bombers into island’s airspace: State Department says it has ‘rock solid’ commitment to protecting its ally
- The US says China’s ‘provocative’ fly-overs risk potential ‘miscalculations’
- Taiwan says China flew 39 planes above the island on Saturday alone
- Among the planes were nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, Taiwan claims
- Taiwan is a democratically governed island about 100 mi off the coast of China
- China lays claim to it, but the island has been run independently since 1949
- China has expressed anger over the recent AUKUS agreement to help Australia build nuclear submarines
- Some also argue that the US’s recent withdrawal from Afghanistan has emboldened China to aggressively pursue its goals in the region
The United States is urging China stop its ‘provocative’ military flights near Taiwan after the communist country sent about 100 military planes, some of them capable of dropping nuclear bombs, into the island’s air defense zone over the weekend.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said that China’s air force sent 39 aircraft to the zone just on Saturday, the highest reported number to date.
They were a mixture of J-16 and Su-30 fighters as well as anti-submarine and early warning aircraft, Taiwan says. Friday’s flights included nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, although it is unclear if they were armed with warheads.
‘The United States is very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability,’ State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Taiwan is a democratically governed island about 100 miles off the coast of mainland China.
The modern island nation was formed in 1949, after the Community Party kicked China’s governing KMT party out of the mainland in the Chinese Civil War.
Taiwan says China sent 39 military planes into its air defense zone Saturday. Above, a Chinese J-16 fighter, one of the plains in this weekend’s fly-overs, flies in an undisclosed location
The fly-overs also included Su-30 jets, seen above in an undated photo from a Chinese news agency, and nuclear-capable H-6 bombers
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said this weekend’s ‘provocative’ show of force risks ‘miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability’
President Biden said the US had ‘to meet the strategic competition with China’ while announcing withdrawal from Afghanistan, which some say gave China a geopolitical opening
Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China, is not part of the United Nations. Only 15 countries recognize it as an independent state. The United States is not one of them, but the two countries have consular relations, and the US government has committed to protecting Taiwan from a Chinese invasion.
China still claims Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China and appears increasingly prepared to fight for it.
China’s Zhurihe Training Base features a full-size mockup of part of downtown Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. It also includes highly elaborate recreations of its Presidential Office Building and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to technology and automotive news website The Drive.
On Sunday, Taiwan’s defense ministry said it sent combat aircraft to warn away the Chinese planes, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them.
The island has complained for more than a year of repeated missions near it by China’s air force, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
‘We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan,’ Price said Sunday.
‘The United States has an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a “sufficient self-defense capability,”‘ Price added.
Taiwan is only 81 mi off the coast of mainland China at the narrowest point of the Taiwan Strait
‘The U.S. commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.’
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry thanked the United States for its concern, and said China was increasing tension in the Indo-Pacific region.
‘In the face of China’s challenges, our country’s government has always committed itself to improving our self-defense capabilities and resolutely safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity,’ it said.
China has yet to comment on its activities, and it is not clear what may have caused Beijing to decide to mount the missions, though Friday was the country’s National Day, a patriotic holiday that marks the founding of the People’s Republic.
China has previously said such flights were to protect the country’s sovereignty and aimed against ‘collusion’ between Taiwan and the United States, the island’s most important international backer.
China has also recently expressed outrage at the AUKUS pact, which will see the United Kingdom and the United States help Australia get nuclear-powered submarines.
Australia has faced mounting diplomatic pressure from China in recent years, with the commission of those subs seen as a sign of strong pushback against Xi Jinping’s communist government.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the ‘extremely irresponsible’ pact ‘seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race,’ according to the BBC.
The government-owned media’s response was even more fervent.
The Global Times, an international English-language outlet owned by the Chinese Communist Party, accused the United States of ‘hysterically polarizing its alliance system,’ adding that ‘Washington is losing its mind by trying to rally its allies against China.’
‘If Australia dares to provoke China more blatantly because of that, or even find fault militarily, China will certainly punish it with no mercy,’ the newspaper warned in an editorial, according to The Diplomat, which covers news from the Indo-Pacific region.
A day after the AUKUS pact was signed, Taipei said two J-11 fighters, six J-16 fighters, one Y-8 anti-submarine plane and one Y-8 spy aircraft entered its air defense identification zone near Pratas Island.
China lays claim to Taiwan, which is democratically run and has been independent from China since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Above, Chinese President Xi Jingping
Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen will give a major speech in Taipei next Sunday during the island nation’s national day. It will include a fly-by of fighter jets
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang condemned China for its actions on Saturday, saying the country was engaging in military aggression and damaging regional peace.
Taiwan marks its national day next Sunday, with a major speech by President Tsai Ing-wen and military parade in central Taipei, which will include a fly-by of fighter jets.
China has stepped up military and political pressure to try to force Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty.
Some argue that the United States’ recent chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which killed 13 US troops and left the country in the hands of the terrorist Taliban regime, paved the way for Chinese aggression.
Afghanistan shares a 47 mile border with mainland China.
In announcing the US’s withdrawal, Biden cited the ‘need to focus on shoring up America’s core strengths to meet the strategic competition with China and other nations.’
‘America’s exit lowers strategic pressure on China,’ Zhu Yongbiao, an expert on Afghanistan at China’s Lanzhou University, told NPR.
‘The situation has positives for China, but the negatives outweigh the positives. What China could stand to gain is quite modest.’
The withdrawal presented a mixed bag for China, according to experts.
‘On the one hand, [China] didn’t love the fact that there [were] American military bases literally on their border in Afghanistan,’ Raffaello Pantucci, a fellow with the Royal United Services Institute think tank in the UK, told NPR.
‘On the other hand, you know, they thought, well, at least someone is dealing with the issues there. And we don’t have to.’
Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedom and democracy.
Speaking in Hanoi, Vietnam last month, Vice President Kamala Harris accused China of ‘bullying’ the country and its neighbors.
‘We need to find ways to pressure, raise the pressure…on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge, its bullying and excessive maritime claims,’ Harris during a meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, referring to China’s extensive claims over the South China Sea.
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