Yet another intrusion of China over Taiwan airspace

N.B Chyoi / September 20, 2021

President Tsai Ing-wen inspected Taiwanese Air force drill

Last Sunday, Taiwan reported an obtrusion into its air defence zone by the Chinese military jets. As per Taiwan’s military report, a fleet of nineteen airships including aircraft with nuclear and fighter capabilities stormed into the island’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIA). Some jets flew over by the Chinese military involved an anti-submarine aircraft & four H-6 bombers which has the potential to bear nuclear weapons.

An Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) of a country is the airspace above the water or land. Aircrafts travelling over this space are identified and controlled in the interest of national security & defence. The United States Armed Forces created the ADIZ for Taiwan after World War 1. ADIZs are not governed by any international treaties and are self-declaratory.

In response to China’s action, the Taiwan defence ministry dispatched the battle aircraft and deployed missiles to warn off Chinese jets. China is prominently overreaching its authority over Taiwan since last year & often engages in such cheap tactics of power flex. During the Coronavirus outbreak in September 2020 last year, Undersecretary of State Keith Krach, a United States envoy held meetings with Taiwan authorities. As a show of retaliation, Beijing flew over 18 warplanes over the Taiwan Strait to establish its authority and force. The move was motivated to intimidate the supporters of Taiwan’s sovereign identity.

China’s defence ministry called it an imperative step amidst the situation in Taiwan to protect the national interest and territorial integrity. Beijing is in strong opposition to any exchange of interaction between Taiwan and other nations especially the US. In January 2021, on the first day of office of the newly elected President Joe Biden, China again flew over 15 aircraft over Taiwan. The President’s office reaffirmed the US support for Taiwan.

Then again in March, another such incursion followed & twenty Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s ADIZ. Predictably, China’s action was in response to an agreement between the US and Taiwan for a Coast Guard Working Group to coordinate policy. A change in leadership in the US does not deter China to prevent it from claiming what it has always seen as its right to fly in its own courtyard. It also wants to scare Taiwanese President Tsai against making any move towards formal independence.

A similar incident happened in April when 25 Chinese military jets flew over the Taiwan Strait. Furthermore, in June some 28 Chinese military aircrafts hovered over the Air Defence Identification Zone of Taiwan, marking the largest reported incursion to date. This particular event arose right after the NATO leaders expressed their concerns over China’s increasing military aggressiveness. Discussing at a summit in Brussels, the leaders also said that China is building & expanding its nuclear weaponry at a swift speed while cooperating with Russia.

Even though Taiwan got separated from China in 1949, China still asserts that one fine day, the island will again be reunited with the mainland, by force if needed. Taiwan is governed by its own separate constitution and a democratically elected government. But this doesn’t preclude China from claiming Taiwan as part of its own territory.

Beijing has been mounting pressure on the island since 2016, right when Tsai Ing-wen was first elected President. While Taiwan considers itself a democratic sovereign nation, China still sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, a rebellious & dissident territory.

Off late, Beijing is heavily hinging on military threats to pressurize Taiwan and the signal is very clear. China’s current actions seem like a propulsion to war. Just recently, China also caused controversies between Taiwan and Honduras, one of the 15 nations that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, depicting a false image of unstable diplomatic ties between the two. Events like these truly suggest that China is not capable of respecting the boundaries of the sovereign territories.

N.B Chyoi
is a Kachin lawyer and geopolitical analyst focusing especially on Burma, India and China.

The opinion expressed here is the author’s own, and does not represent the editorial policy of The Kachin Post.