Taiwan scrambles jets as Chinese air force flies round island


February 9, 2020 / 5:56 PM / Updated 15 hours ago

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s air force scrambled on Sunday to intercept Chinese jets that flew around the island claimed by Beijing as its own, in a move denounced by Taiwan’s Defence Ministry as a threat to regional peace and stability.

China has been flying what it calls “island encirclement” drills on-off since 2016 when Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen first took office.

Beijing believes Tsai, who won re-election last month, wishes to push the island’s formal independence. She says Taiwan is an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name.

In a statement, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said Chinese J-11 fighters and H-6 bombers flew into the Bashi Channel to the south of Taiwan, then out into the Pacific before heading back to base via the Miyako Strait, located between Japan’s islands of Miyako and Okinawa, to the northeast of Taiwan.

During this period, the national military appropriately used air reconnaissance aircraft and air defense forces in accordance with combat readiness regulations,” it said.

The ministry provided a picture of a Taiwan air force F-16 shadowing one of the Chinese H-6 bombers.

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The Chinese Communist’s long-range far-out-at-sea missions have impacted regional security and stability and endanger the peace and welfare shared by all parties in the region,” the ministry said.

There was no immediate comment from China’s Defence Ministry. China has brushed off such drills in the past as nothing out of the ordinary.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing have further plummeted in the past few weeks following the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China, with Taiwan accusing China of preventing the island from accessing full information from the World Health Organization (WHO) or attending its meetings.

Taiwan is not a WHO member due to China’s objections, which says the island is merely a Chinese province whose interests in the health body are adequately represented by Beijing.

But in one small diplomatic breakthrough for Taiwan, the WHO said Taiwanese experts will participate this week in an on-line meeting of experts about the virus.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a Sunday statement this was a “good start” and that they would strive to take part in more WHO events.

Taiwan’s WHO troubles last week became another flashpoint in Sino-U.S. ties, with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva telling the agency to deal directly with Taiwan’s government, drawing a sharp rebuke from China.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard: Editing by Neil Fullick

Source; Reuters “Taiwan scrambles jets as Chinese air force flies round island”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Why is China expanding its air base 160 miles from Taiwan?


A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force Sukhoi Su-35 fighters formate off the wing of a Xian H-6K bomber. (China’s Ministry of National Defense)

By: Mike Yeo   3 days ago

MELBOURNE, Australia — China is expanding an air base on the East China Sea coast, adding facilities that potentially allow it to permanently base combat aircraft closer to Taiwan and islands of which both China and Japan claim ownership.

Satellite photos taken in April show that the construction of new 24 aircraft shelters, taxiways and additional buildings are on the verge of being completed at the air base near the town of Xiapu, in China’s coastal Fujian Province.

The new aircraft shelters are built in a semi-dispersed state in six clusters of four, with two clusters built near the end of the single 1.7-mile-long runway and the rest located in one of two aircraft dispersal area which already has 15 of the 20 hardened and camouflaged aircraft shelters at the base. Each of the new shelters measures approximately 100 feet long and 60 feet wide, which is more than enough to accommodate China’s Sukhoi Su-30/35 and Shenyang J-11/15/16 Flanker family of fighter jets.

A satellite photo of Xiapu air base dated September 2017 showing the aircraft shelters being built. More recent satellite photos show these are close to completion. (Google, with annotation by Mike Yeo/Staff)

Several military buildings have also been built as part of the upgrading project, which also includes five new barracks blocks along with what retired Col. Vinayak Bhat, who previously served as a satellite imagery analyst with the Indian Army, told Defense News appear to be parking garages and testing and inspection facilities for vehicles. Land clearing is also taking place at the north eastern corner of the base complex, suggesting more facilities could yet be added.

The semi-dispersed nature of the new aircraft shelters is a departure from the normal practice at Chinese bases, whose shelters are normally built in straight lines with the housed aircraft parked side by side, and is likely to reflect the frontline nature of the air base.

The base is located just 160 miles from Taiwan’s capital Taipei and 225 miles from the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, making it closer to the islands than the nearest Japanese combat aircraft which are based 260 miles away at Naha in Okinawa. China is also claiming ownership of the islands, which it calls the Diaoyu Islands.

The construction of the new aircraft shelters at the air base could point to China upgrading it to a fully-fledged operational air base with its own permanently assigned combat aircraft regiment or brigade. It had previously been used only as a deployment base since completion in 2012, hosting ongoing rotating detachments of approximately 12 People’s Liberation Army Air Force or PLAAF fighter jets.

These rotations, which satellite photos show almost always include the Sukhoi Su-30 multirole fighter or Chinese-built Shenyang J-11 interceptors, are believed to be increasingly utilised to accompany PLAAF bomber and intelligence-gathering aircraft flying out to the Western Pacific via international airspace over the Miyako Straits, with data released by the Japanese Ministry of Defense showing the fighters heading to and from the direction of Xiapu.

The fighters usually follow the bombers well past the Miyako Straits before turning back, which equates to a round trip of more than 1,000 miles from Xiapu.

PLAAF bombers have also been increasingly carrying out flights circumnavigating the island of Taiwan, which China views as a rogue province and has said it will take back by force if necessary. The latest reported mission on the 11th of May saw two groups of Xian H-6K bombers circumnavigate Taiwan simultaneously from both north and south of the island, with one group flying clockwise and the other going counter-clockwise.

According to the announcement by China’s Ministry of National Defense, Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets flew over the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan, which would make the first time the former has been known to be used on such missions. The flights prompted scrambles by both the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Taiwan’s Republic of China Air Force to intercept and observe the PLAAF bombers and intelligence gathering aircraft, which according to the Japanese MoD included a Tupolev Tu-154 and Shaanxi Y-8.

Source: Reuters “Why is China expanding its air base 160 miles from Taiwan?”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Cross-strait military build-up heightens war-risk and increases likelihood of discrimination against Taiwan and US companies in China


David Li – IHS Jane’s Intelligence Weekly
19 February 2018

Key Points
•Taiwan’s relations with China have deteriorated significantly since President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office, as indicated by an increase in hostile rhetoric and Chinese military activities near Taiwan’s airspace, including increased frequency and scale of Chinese military exercises near Taiwan, to which Taiwan has objected.
•From a Chinese perspective, securing the “first island chain” extending from the Malay Peninsula to the Beijing Sea is a strategic imperative. The increased military activity in the East China Sea and defence capabilities of the US and its allies (notably Japan and South Korea) in response has increased China’s perception that it is under threat, and strengthened its commitment to achieving military dominance of the region.
•Chinese maritime exercises around Taiwan will likely become routine, while Chinese patrols and selective discriminatory measures against Taiwanese firms present elevated risk of cargo and marine transport disruption. Chinese air force incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), would increase war risk, however escalation to full-scale war is unlikely.

Event

Since October 2017, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was reported to be working on a plan to increase the military budget significantly, signalling the need for Taiwan to develop advanced weapon systems and acquire more military equipment from the US.

In a report released in December 2017, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) explicitly designated China as the island’s biggest security threat, making specific reference to the increase in frequency of Chinese military activities. China’s air force carried out 14 military aircraft exercises close to Taiwan’s ADIZ from July to December 2017, compared to only two from January to June. On January 2018, Chinese aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, briefly entered the Taiwan ADIZ while sailing towards the South China Sea.

On 4 January, Taiwan had sharply criticised a decision by the Civil Aviation Administration Authority of China (CAAC) allowing the use of the M503 civil flight route, ostensibly to ease airspace congestion over southeast China.

Source: Jane’s 360 “Cross-strait military build-up heightens war-risk and increases likelihood of discrimination against Taiwan and US companies in China”

Note: This is Jane’s 360’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Taiwan says Chinese aircraft flew near island in military exercise


TAIPEI (Reuters) – China flew several fighter and reconnaissance aircraft near Taiwan in a training exercise, the self-ruled island’s defense ministry said on Friday.

Despite decades of growing trade across the Taiwan Strait, China has never renounced the use of force, if necessary, to reclaim what it considers a breakaway province to which the defeated Nationalists fled after losing a civil war in 1949.

“We were in a position to monitor their movements from the beginning to the end,” defense ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said, describing what he called a routine exercise. “There’s nothing for our people to worry about.”

The ministry released two photographs, one showing a Chinese warplane as it flew near Taiwan on Thursday.

The Chinese government has not issued a statement on the exercise.

In a similar military exercise last week, China flew six warplanes over the Miyako Strait between Japan’s islands of Miyako and Okinawa to the northeast of Taiwan, which Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had also monitored.

Such exercises were legal and proper and Japan should “get used to it”, China’s defense ministry said at the time.

The flyover by the formation of Xian H-6 bombers was “unusual”, Japan’s defense ministry said in a statement, but added there had been no violation of the country’s airspace.

China’s navy and air force have held exercises in the Western Pacific in recent months, as they hone their ability to operate far from home shores.

Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters “Taiwan says Chinese aircraft flew near island in military exercise”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China lodges protest over Taiwan content in U.S. defense bill


China has lodged “stern representations” with the United States after President Barack Obama signed into law a U.S. defense policy bill that suggests a plan to conduct high-level military exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan.

Part of the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act “expresses the sense of Congress that (the U.S. Department of Defense) should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan”.

In a statement late Sunday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a protest with the United States over the Taiwan content of the act and expressed its strong opposition.

Taiwan is Chinese territory and purely an internal matter, the ministry said.

It noted that the part of the defense policy bill referring to Taiwan was not legally binding, but said it was an interference with China’s internal affairs that China could not accept.

“We urge the U.S. side to abide by its promises made to China on the Taiwan issue, stop U.S.-Taiwan military contacts and arms sales to Taiwan, to avoid damaging Sino-U.S. ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

China was upset earlier this month after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump talked by telephone with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Richard Pullin)

Source: Reuters “China lodges protest over Taiwan content in U.S. defense bill”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Chinese carrier enters South China Sea amid renewed tension


A general view shows navy soldiers standing on China's first aircraft carrier "Liaoning" as it is berthed in a port in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning province, September 25, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer

A general view shows navy soldiers standing on China’s first aircraft carrier “Liaoning” as it is berthed in a port in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning province, September 25, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

By J.R. Wu | TAIPEI Mon Dec 26, 2016 | 3:51pm EST

A group of Chinese warships led by the country’s sole aircraft carrier entered the top half of the South China Sea on Monday after passing south of Taiwan, the self-ruled island’s Defence Ministry said of what China has termed a routine exercise.

The move comes amid renewed tension over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, ineligible for state-to-state relations, following U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s telephone call with the island’s president that upset Beijing.

The Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier has taken part in previous exercises, including some in the South China Sea, but China is years away from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the United States has practised for decades.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the carrier, accompanied by five vessels, passed southeast of the Pratas Islands, which are controlled by Taiwan, heading southwest.

The carrier group earlier passed 90 nautical miles south of Taiwan’s southernmost point via the Bashi Channel, between Taiwan and the Philippines.

“Staying vigilant and flexible has always been the normal method of maintaining airspace security,” said ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi, declining to say whether Taiwan fighter jets were scrambled or if submarines had been deployed.

Chen said the ministry was continuing to “monitor and grasp the situation.”

Senior Taiwan opposition Nationalist lawmaker Johnny Chiang said the Liaoning exercise was China’s signal to the United States that it has broken through the “first island chain,” an area that includes Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan.

The U.S. State Department on Monday said its position has not changed since July, when it said it was continuing to monitor China’s military modernization and that it expects nations conducting defence exercises to comply with the law. Representatives for the Pentagon declined to comment.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, said the incoming team had no comment on China’s move. Trump takes office on Jan. 20 but has already has drawn headlines over a series of statements on China and Taiwan.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said people should not read too much into what the carrier was up to, as its movements were within the law.

“Our Liaoning should enjoy in accordance with the law freedom of navigation and overflight as set by international law, and we hope all sides can respect this right of China’s,” she told a daily news briefing.

Influential state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said the exercise showed how the carrier was improving its combat capabilities and that it should now sail even further afield.

“The Chinese fleet will cruise to the Eastern Pacific sooner or later. When China’s aircraft carrier fleet appears in offshore areas of the U.S. one day, it will trigger intense thinking about maritime rules,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

China has been angered recently by U.S. naval patrols near islands that China claims in the South China Sea. This month, a Chinese navy ship seized a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea. China later returned it.

Japan said late on Sunday it had spotted six Chinese naval vessels including the Liaoning travelling through the passage between Miyako and Okinawa and into the Pacific.

Japan’s top government spokesman said on Monday the voyage showed China’s expanding military capability and Japan was closely monitoring it.

China’s air force conducted long-range drills this month above the East and South China Seas that rattled Japan and Taiwan. China said those exercises were also routine.

Last December, the defence ministry confirmed China was building a second aircraft carrier but its launch date is unclear. The aircraft carrier programme is a state secret.

Beijing could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years, the Pentagon said in a report last year.

China claims most of the South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takanaka in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Susan Heavey in Washington, and Melissa Fares in Palm Beach, Florida; Editing by Nick Macfie, Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler)

Source: Reuters “Chinese carrier enters South China Sea amid renewed tension”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.