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May 29, 2024

Taiwan Reports Spike in Chinese Military Activity After Election Win

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Jan 22, 2024

Taiwan has reported a major spike in Chinese military activity after the recent re-election of President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). This comes amid heightened tensions between Taipei and Beijing over the past few years.

Dozens of Chinese Warplanes Detected Around Taiwan

Two days after Tsai’s election victory, Taiwan’s defense ministry said 27 Chinese warplanes entered the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on 18th January (Source 1). This is the largest incursion reported since October 2021.

The aircraft included 6 J-11 and 6 J-16 fighter jets as well as 15 SU-30 fighters, marking a show of force by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) (Source 2). According to experts, the PLA wanted to send a clear message to the newly re-elected Taiwanese government.

The incident came just two days after President Tsai was elected for a second term in a landslide victory against her Beijing-friendly opponent Han Kuo-yu. Tsai and her party have traditionally taken a harder line against China compared to the opposition Kuomintang.

China Resumes Regular Military Drills Near Taiwan

In the wake of Taiwan’s election, China also appears to have resumed regular combat drills in waters and airspace near Taiwan (Source 3).

The PLA Eastern Theater Command, which oversees the Taiwan Strait area, has conducted back-to-back drills in the past week featuring warships, warplanes and support aircraft.

These come after a relative lull in PLA activities during the election campaign period in Taiwan from mid-December to mid-January. Now Beijing seems intent on increasing military pressure on Taiwan post-election.

Taiwan Suddenly Changes How It Reports Chinese Military Activities

In another key development this week, Taiwan has abruptly changed how it reports PLA activities near the island (Source 4).

Previously, routine PLA drills were only reported if they crossed median lines in the Taiwan Strait or entered the island’s ADIZ. But now Taiwan has said it will report all detected drills regardless of location, admitting these still amount to “grey zone” warfare tactics.

Analysts say this policy change comes amid fear of increased Chinese aggression after the DPP’s election win. Taiwan likely also wants to avoid accusations of downplaying the threat from China.

Date PLA Aircraft Remarks
Jan. 17 15 fighters, 6 H-6 bombers, 2 surveillance aircraft First major drills reported since Taiwan’s election
Jan. 18 27 fighters and bombers Largest single-day incursion into Taiwan’s ADIZ since October 2021

Table 1: Recent Notable PLA Drills Near Taiwan

Taiwan Billionaire Warns Island Must Prepare For War With China

Taiwanese billionaire Morris Chang, founder of major semiconductor firm TSMC, said recently that the island must be physically and psychologically prepared for the possibility of war with China (Source 5).

He warned that China could resort to force over the next few years, especially if economic troubles at home necessitate an external distraction. Chang said while he still hopes for peaceful ties, prudence dictates serious preparation including larger defense budgets.

His comments have added to a growing debate in Taiwan about boosting defense spending and preparedness amid the rising Chinese threat. They also underscore the high stakes of cross-strait tensions for the global tech industry.

Six Chinese Balloons Detected Around Taiwan

In the most recent incident, Taiwan revealed that six Chinese weather balloons were tracked over its airspace in a single day on January 22nd (Source 6). This was a new record after recent sightings of suspected Chinese spy balloons over the US.

Taiwan stated that one of the balloons traversed its territory while the others were spotted close to outlying islands. It raised concerns of stepped-up Chinese surveillance attempts ahead of planned military drills in the coming weeks.

The incident came just days before a key meeting between top representatives of Taipei and Beijing at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It has further strained ties amid an escalation in Chinese intimidation tactics after Taiwan’s election.

Expect More Shows of Force By China

Looking ahead, the recently reappointed head of the US Indo-Pacific Command Adm. John Aquilino warned that more Chinese sabre-rattling around Taiwan can be expected in the near future (Source 7).

He predicted increased PLA naval and air operations as China looks to intimidate Taiwan’s leadership and test US military readiness to respond. Chinese President Xi also faces internal pressures to project strong leadership ahead of a crucial party congress later this year where he intends to secure an unprecedented third term.

So despite a brief easing of tensions before Taiwan’s election, all signs point to Beijing ramping up military, economic and diplomatic pressure on the island in the coming year. How the US and allied democracies respond could determine if the Taiwan Strait remains peaceful or becomes the next global flashpoint.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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