According to AFP data, China sent 1,727 aircraft to Taiwan’s air defense zone in 2022.
The Incursions by Chinese warplanes in the air defense zone of Taiwan almost doubled in 2022, when beijing it has significantly increased military pressure on the island, according to data compiled by AFP. Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by Communist China, which considers the island part of its territory and has promised to recapture it one day, by force if necessary.
Relations between Beijing and Taipei, at their lowest since Xi Jinping came to power more than a decade ago,worsened even more sharply in 2022. China stepped up incursions around Taiwan and launched its biggest military maneuvers there in years, in retaliation for an early August visit by American Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives.
1727 aircraft sent from China in 2022
Last year, China sent 1727 military aircraft in the identification and air defense zone (Adiz) of Taiwan, compared to 960 in 2021 and 380 in 2020, according to a database compiled by AFP using daily data provided by Taiwan’s defense ministry. The Adiz, not to be confused with a country’s airspace, encompasses a much larger area in which any foreign aircraft would have to report to local air authorities. Taiwan’s Adiz overlaps with part of China and also includes a portion of the mainland.
Between 2021 and 2022, incursions by Chinese fighters more than doubled, from 538 to 1,241, those by bombers, including the nuclear-capable H6, jumped from 60 to 101. Also in 2022, Chinese drones entered for the first time in Taiwan Adiz time. The Taiwanese military recorded 71 such incursions, all following Nancy Pelosi’s visit.
These Chinese flights are seen as a way to deplete Taiwan’s aging fleet of fighter aircraft and study their defensive responses. But also to send a signal to Washington. “They want to show their determination (…) and force the US: don’t get too close to their red lines, don’t cross them“Lee Hsi-min, Taiwan’s former chief of staff, explains to AFP.
Washington diplomatically recognizes China but remains Taipei’s main ally, supplying it with arms and maintaining a policy of “strategic ambiguityon its possible military intervention in the event of a Chinese attack. This policy aims both to dissuade China from invading Taiwan and to prevent the island’s leaders from provoking Beijing by officially declaring its independence.
United States allied with Taiwan
In Washington, support for Taiwan is a rare consensus argument between Republicans and Democrats. But President Joe Biden has begun to move away from the position of “strategic ambiguitystating in multiple interviews that the United States would come to Taiwan’s aid in the event of an attack.
For Beijing, air raids are often a way of expressing discontent. On December 25, he thus sent 71 aircraft for a “hitting exercisein response, according to her, to a “escalation of collusions and provocationsfrom Washington and Taipei, a few days after the granting of US military aid of 10 billion dollars to Taiwan.
A record number of 440 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air sorties were logged in August, the month of a visit by Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. “The more frequent sorties are worrying and keep Taiwan on constant alert to make sure the PLA doesn’t use them as cover for an attackJ. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based analyst, told AFP.
However, this”does not mean that the Communist Party of China is ready to use force as soon as possible“, he specifies, “at least not under an invasion scenario, which would require months of mobilization“. With its incursions, Beijing is leading a “war of attrition against the Taiwanese armynotes Richard Hu, deputy director of the Taiwan Center for Security Studies at National Chengchi University.
Beijing also intends to gather information on the level of preparation of the Taiwanese army. But conquering this mountainous island would be a formidable challenge for Beijing, continues this retired general. “To conquer Taiwan by force, the People’s Republic of China still faces a number of vital difficulties.“, He believes. “Like bringing hundreds of thousands of soldiers across the Taiwan Strait“.