China ratchets up regional pressure with military aircraft activities near Taiwan, upgrades coast guard powers

RoCAF intercept - Taiwan MND

Chinese military aircraft activity has surged over the past weekend with Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), which publishes daily reports of Chinese air activities inside its air defence identification zone (ADIZ), reporting the incursion of 13 and 15 aircraft on 23 and 24 January, respectively.

Normally limited to a handful of Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) or intelligence-gathering aircraft on any given day, the aircraft that approached Taiwan on the weekend were tactical and strategic platforms such as the Chengdu J-10, Shenyang J-16 and Sukhoi Su-30 multirole combat aircraft and Xi’an H-6K strategic bombers.

“Airborne alert sorties had been tasked, radio warnings issued and air defence missile systems deployed to monitor the [activities],” the MND stated.

It is unclear if the surge of activity was part of a scheduled exercise or carried out as a warning to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province and has vowed to unite with the mainland by force if necessary.

The US State Department responded to China’s air activities in the Taiwanese ADIZ with a statement noting “with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempts to intimidate its neighbors, including Taiwan.”

It also urged Beijing to “cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives.”

Meanwhile, Beijing also passed a law on 22 January that authorises the China Coast Guard (CCG) to use armed force against foreign vessels in waters “under China’s jurisdiction” under certain circumstances.

According to the new ‘Maritime Police Law of the People’s Republic of China’, the CCG is now sanctioned to take “all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organisations and individuals at sea, or are facing an imminent danger of illegal infringement”.

The new law also authorises the CCG to demolish “buildings, structures, and various fixed or floating devices” from foreign organisations and individuals located “in the sea areas and islands under our jurisdiction”.

by Jr Ng