A Chinese anti-submarine helicopter was spotted inside Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) for the first time this week, the island’s Ministry of National Defense said.
The ministry indicated in its regular briefing note that a KA-28 ASW helicopter was seen flying in the southwestern sector of the ADIZ on Wednesday but did not provide flight path details.
On the same day, a Y-8 electrical intelligence aircraft (Y-8 ELINT) and a Y-8 long-range electronic warfare aircraft (Y-8 EW) were also spotted entering Taiwan’s ADIZ.
An ADIZ is an area where civil aircraft are tracked and identified before entering a country’s airspace.
The exits took place only a few days after the United States announced its new Indo-Pacific strategyin which he identified “maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” as one of the priorities.
US Assistant Secretary of State for the Office of East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink reiterated during a press conference call to discuss the new strategy on Thursday that “US support for Taiwan is rock solid.”
“We will continue to help Taiwan maintain credible self-defense,” he said.
Earlier this month, the United States approved a possible $100 million sale of equipment and services to Taiwan to “support, maintain and improve” its Patriot missile defense system, prompting an angry response from Beijing.
China’s Foreign Ministry quickly condemned the deal, saying it “seriously violates the one-China principle” and “damages China’s sovereignty and security interests”.
China maintains that Taiwan is a Chinese province and pledges to “reunite” it with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Since the beginning of the year, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has reported a total of 173 Chinese military aircraft entering the island’s ADIZ.
The Global Times – the hawkish brother of the People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party – claimed in an editorial last month that “it has become normal for PLA fighter jets to fly over Taiwan and approach the island for patrols”. PLA stands for People’s Liberation Army of China.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense confirmed that on February 5, a Chinese civilian aircraft flew closely over Dongyin Island, a strategic location on Taiwan’s defense map.
Ministry spokesman Shih Shun-wen told reporters the flyby was likely to “test our military’s response”.
Dongyin is part of the Matsu archipelago, 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of China’s Fujian province. The Matsu Islands have been under Taiwan’s control since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
It is “Taiwan’s northernmost point and a strategic base… Dongyin is solid granite, full of tunnels and bunkers filled with long-range missiles,” Ian Easton, senior director of Project 2049 Institute, a group of American reflection, described the island on its Twitter.
Air Force Chief of Staff Huang Chih-wei was quoted in Taiwanese media as saying the plane was a Y-12 light twin-engine civilian aircraft, which approached from Dongyin, but did not enter Taiwanese airspace.
Project 2049’s Easton said the flyby was “classic political warfare.”
“Chinese authorities have sent a civilian aircraft over one of the most dangerous and heavily fortified islands on the planet,” Easton wrote.
“If Taiwan fires, it provokes an armed response. If Taiwan is showing restraint (which it has), it looks and feels weak.
Shen Ming-Shih, a Taiwanese military expert, said that although the Taiwanese Air Force quickly learned the plane’s flight path, “its response was insufficient”.
Shen, acting deputy director-general of the Taiwan National Defense and Security Research Institute, a government think tank, said it was about “China testing the northwest outlying islands of Taiwan” to gather intelligence and information for future attacks on the island.
“Taiwan must take this seriously and take military precautions,” he said.