Taiwan has spotted 13 Chinese warplanes in its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) since Thursday, the day Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
As per the Ministry of National Defense, eight Shenyang J-16 fighter jets and one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance aircraft breached the southwest corner of the zone on Thursday, forcing Taiwan to scramble its own fighter jets.
Four more J-16 fighter jets entered the same location Friday and triggered the same response.
Taiwan’s ADIZ is international airspace wherein air traffic controllers identify incoming aircraft. Other countries, including the U.S., have similar zones that serve to safeguard national security.
Aside from sending its own jets, Taiwan responds to China’s incursions by broadcasting radio warnings and deploying land-based, anti-aircraft missiles to monitor them.
China has flown at least 40 sorties to Taiwan’s ADIZ this month, as per Taiwan News. Last October, Beijing sent a record 150 warplanes, sparking fears of a full-scale invasion by 2025.
A day before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying rejected comparisons with Taiwan.
“Taiwan for sure is not Ukraine,” Hua said in a press briefing. “Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China. This is an indisputable legal and historical fact.”
Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen ordered all government units to “strengthen the prevention of cognitive warfare” in response to “foreign forces intending to manipulate the situation in Ukraine and affect the morale of Taiwanese society,” according to Reuters.
On Thursday, Hua refused to call Russia’s action an invasion and instead blamed the U.S. for “fueling the flame.” So far, China remains the only major government that has not denounced Moscow for its aggression.
While Hua maintained that China hopes for a peaceful resolution in Ukraine, observers believe Russia’s actions will embolden Beijing as it sees Western leaders fail to deter Putin.
“While [Chinese President Xi Jinping] publicly has not endorsed what Putin is doing, he hasn’t condemned it either,” said Fox News senior strategic analyst Gen. Jack Keane. “They’re talking about negotiations, a middle road approach. But you can bet that he is looking at this and what he sees is weakness in the West and how that can advantage him in terms of his national objectives as well.”
On Friday, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the island will join “democratic countries” in imposing sanctions on Russia, though he did not provide details.
“[Taiwan will] coordinate closely with the United States and other like-minded countries to adopt appropriate measures in order to free Ukraine from the horrors of war,” Su said, as per Reuters.
Featured Image via CGTN (left) and Alliance of Democracies (right)