China Flies 34 Aircraft, 9 Ships Near Taiwan as U.S. House Speaker Plans Island Visit

  • Bureau
  • 09:26 AM, February 1, 2023
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China Flies 34 Aircraft, 9 Ships Near Taiwan as U.S. House Speaker Plans Island Visit
Tweet by Taiwan's defense ministry on February 1, 2023.

Taiwan’s Patriot and Skybow III air defense systems were put to task in the north of the country as China flew a record 34 aircraft including fighters and bombers besides 9 warships today in the biggest show of force in recent weeks.

The drill was in response to reports that the U.S. House speaker Kevin McCarthy might visit the island in spring, Global Times reported adding "This could be seen as a warning to McCarthy that he should not follow his predecessor Nancy Pelosi's suit in provocatively interfering in China's internal affairs."

In the past, China has threatened “reunification” by force and various Chinese experts have predicted that this event could take place in 2023. However the Chinese government calls these frequent incursions as “multi-domain exercises.”

Taiwan’s anti-aircraft missiles are not deployed in a single location, but are mobile.

The Air Force Command said the movement of units is based on the threat of the enemy and the need for defensive operations that are carefully planned to ensure national security. It did not comment on specifics of troop deployment or missions.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the island's armed forces were monitoring the current situation, and that Taiwan's aviation, Navy vessels and land-based missile systems were on high alert. Based on the Defense Ministry’s information, 20 PLA aircraft and drones entered the island’s air defense identification zone from the southwest. The vehicles were: Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, BZK-005 and BZK-007 drones, J-16, J-11 and J-10 multi-role fighters, as well as Su-30s.

China Flies 34 Aircraft, 9 Ships Near Taiwan as U.S. House Speaker Plans Island Visit
Chinese landing ships

The PLA has been regularly patrolling the waters near the island in recent months. Tensions in the Taiwan Strait escalated after former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to Taipei last August. The trip sparked extreme discontent in Beijing.

In December, the U.S. reportedly offered to sell up to 100 Patriot PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles and related equipment to Taiwan. The proposal was made under the provisions of a 2010 sale and would have a value of approximately $2.81 billion.

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