China Sends Swaths of Navy Ships, Warplanes to Taiwan Ahead of Annual Invasion Training

Over the past two days, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed swaths of warplanes and navy ships toward Taiwan as Taipai prepares for its annual defensive training to counter a possible invasion. 

Reportedly, 68 warplanes, including bombers and fighter jets, have been sent from China in the direction of Taiwan, with some even crossing the median line within the Taiwan Strait, which serves as the unofficial border that divides sea and air parameters between the island and mainland China. 

Tuesday morning, China sent 38 warplanes and nine Navy vessels, followed by another 30 planes deployed near the island, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said 32 aircraft had entered its Air Defense Identification Zone in a tweet on Tuesday night, followed by 23 warplanes Wednesday afternoon.

“The PLA aircraft conducted long-range aerial reconnaissance training alongside long-distance vessels to the southeast of Taiwan,” said the ministry in a Twitter statement, “Four [People’s Liberation Army Navy] PLAN vessels also conducted joint combat patrol.”

Taiwan’s defense ministry said its armed forces are “closely monitoring the situation” using surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence system. 

Taipei has also deployed naval vessels, civilian air patrol units, and land-based systems in response to China’s aggression. 

Reportedly, the island is set to hold its annual Han Guang exercise later this month to drill on military combat readiness to prevent a likely invasion by China. 

According to The Associated Press, Wan An exercises will also be held to test civilian readiness in response to evacuation calls in the event of a natural disaster or air raid. 

China has yet to comment on its deployment of aircraft and naval ships in the direction of Taiwan, although China has made it clear it intends to fully “reunify” the island with China.

Western allies and the U.S. have repeatedly condemned any attempt to change the “status quo” in the region though they continue to acknowledge the principle of “One China.”

China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory

China continues to claim Taiwan as its own territory and, in recent years, has shown it is displeased at political activities in Taiwan by stepping up the number of military planes it sends toward Taiwan. 

In the last year, China has also started sending its navy vessels and drones to patrol the waters near the island. 

In Tuesday and Wednesday’s maneuvers, the PLA flew H-6 bombers in a large loop south of Taiwan, traveling past the island before looping back toward the south coast of China.

The largest military drills China has conducted in recent years were in response to former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last August. Military exercises disrupted trade lanes in the Taiwan Strait, forced airplanes to reroute their flights, and fired missiles over the island in a significant escalation. 

In April, the PLA held combat readiness drills on a large scale in the waters and air around Taiwan in response to the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen meeting with the current Speaker of the U.S. House, Kevin McCarthy.