The People’s Republic of China sent 39 fighter planes into its southeastern neighbor Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Sunday, carrying out the largest such aerial maneuver thus far this year.
A day before, the United States Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force carried out a powerful show of force in the Philippine Sea.
Two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and two U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships took part in the operations alongside a Japanese helicopter destroyer: an aircraft carrier but for helicopters.
The Navy did not specify the proximity of the flotilla to Taiwan. The Philippine Sea is a section of the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan located between the island republic and the American territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) January 23, 2022
“Freedom at its finest! Nothing reaffirms our commitment to a #FreeandOpenIndoPacific like 2 Carrier Strike Groups, 2 Amphibious Ready Groups sailing alongside our close friends from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force,” Vice Admiral Karl Thomas said in a Sunday tweet. Thomas is commander of the seventh fleet of the U.S. Navy.
Following the U.S.-Japan naval maneuver, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force of Communist China sent military aircraft into Taiwan’s aerial defense identification zone.
An ADIZ is designated airspace over land or water where a civil aircraft seeking to enter a country’s airspace must identify itself to the relevant authorities ahead of entry.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, 39 PLA aircraft entered the island nation’s southwestern ADIZ.
The Chinese aircraft included 24 J-16 fighter jets, 10 J-10 fighter jets, two Y-9 transport aircraft, two Y-8 anti-submarine warning aircraft and one nuclear-capable H-6 bomber, according to the Defense Ministry.
This is the largest recorded ADIZ flyover by Chinese planes this year. The largest demonstration in 2021 occurred on Oct. 4 when the PLA sent 52 PLA aircraft into the country’s southwest ADIZ.
China often carries out such demonstrations to threaten Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province from mainland China despite a majority of Taiwanese not favoring unification and rule by the Chinese Communist Party.
“No doubt this is part of the broader campaign by Beijing aimed at eroding the will and ability of Taiwan to continue resisting,” said Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, according to CNN.
In recent years, the maneuvers have come as a message to Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which has maintained a pro-independence stance, opposing unification with Communist China, in line with the aspirations of most Taiwanese.
The CCP has not ruled out the possibility of a military invasion to forcefully annex China’s southeastern neighbor, in opposition to the Taiwanese people’s right to self-determination enshrined in international law.
“This is a well-thought-out program from Beijing, meant to be carried out over months and years, with several interrelated goals,” Center for a New American Security fellow Jacob Stokes told CNN. “The first is political-military signaling to try to intimidate the government in Taiwan and exert China’s claim to the self-governing island.”
“The second is getting PLA pilots and associated military support personnel experience conducting these types of operations under different conditions (such as at night), which will increase their capability to fight if called upon to do so.”
“The third is to force Taiwan’s military to scramble aircraft in response, which helps wear out Taiwan’s smaller air force and pilots,” Stokes said.
The PLA incursion comes as NATO and the United States faces a significant test of determination in Ukraine, where Russia appears to be bent on invading the Eastern European nation.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.