Beijing’s air and sea patrols near Taiwan a ‘necessary action against collusion’ with US, PLA says

·3-min read

The PLA Eastern Theatre Command said its combat-readiness patrols in air and sea territories near Taiwan this week were “necessary action” against “collusion” between Taiwan and the United States.

A statement by the Eastern Theatre Command issued on Wednesday accused the US of hypocrisy on the issue of Taiwan, with alleged support for advocates of Taiwan’s independence, a position it said was a betrayal of US alignment with the one-China policy.

“Taiwan is a part of China. The Eastern Theatre Command troops will continue to strengthen training to prepare for battle, raising its capacity to complete missions and resolutely thwarting any foreign intervention and conspiracies on ‘Taiwan independence’,” Shi Yi, army senior colonel and spokesman for the Eastern Theatre Command, said on Wednesday.

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Taiwan responded to the drills this week with a combat air patrol and radio warnings, and deployed its air-defence missile system to track the PLA planes.

A statement from the PLA Eastern Theatre Command issued on Wednesday accuses the United States of hypocrisy on the issue of Taiwan. Photo: Weibo
A statement from the PLA Eastern Theatre Command issued on Wednesday accuses the United States of hypocrisy on the issue of Taiwan. Photo: Weibo

The statement came after Taiwan’s defence ministry said PLA aircraft entered its southwestern air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, it recorded 30 sorties by PLA jets, including the rarely seen Su-35 fighter and nine types of jets – the biggest range of aircraft since Taiwan began tallying PLA patrols in September 2020.

Beijing was the first international buyer of the Russian-made Su-35, and has been seen deploying the heavyweight on patrol in the South China Sea.

On Tuesday, three PLA aircraft – a mainland Chinese Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft and two J-16 fighters – entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ.

While the PLA has routinely patrolled Taiwan as a show of strength in the past few years, the patrols this week reflected Beijing’s response towards recent US action regarding Taiwan.

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The drills on Monday came as a US delegation led by Senator Tammy Duckworth arrived in Taiwan for a three-day visit on regional security and other issues. Both the Chinese embassy in the US and the foreign ministry in Beijing voiced opposition to the trip.

US President Joe Biden suggested in a press conference on May 23 that his country would defend Taiwan in the case of an attack by Beijing, a comment that seemed to deviate from Washington’s policy of “strategic ambiguity”.

Although the White House quickly downplayed the comment, Beijing ramped up its military drills around Taiwan in response.

Two days after Biden’s comments, the PLA said it had conducted a drill near Taiwan as a warning against “collusion” between the island and the US.

Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan to be a breakaway province to be taken back – by force if necessary.

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