Largest ever incursion of Chinese air force near Taiwan

Reuters is reporting that the Chinese air force sent another incursion of military aircraft near the island of Taiwan today. This has become a somewhat routine occurrence lately but today was a bit different because of the size of the incursion.

Twenty Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Friday, in the largest incursion yet reported by the island’s defence ministry and marking a dramatic escalation of tension across the Taiwan Strait…

It marked the largest incursion to date by the Chinese air force since Taiwan’s defence ministry began disclosing almost daily Chinese military flights over the waters between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea last year…

The presence of so many Chinese combat aircraft on Friday’s mission – Taiwan said it was made up of four nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and 10 J-16 fighter jets, among others – was unusual and came as the island’s air force suspended all training missions after two fighter jet crashes this week.

From the moment the Biden administration took office, China has been rattling its air force saber over Taiwan. Then there was that not-so-subtle warning from a military spokesman that “Independence Means War.” What’s significant about this latest action is that China is clearly escalating the situation. That’s worrisome because our own military leaders have been warning recently that China clearly has the annexation of Taiwan in its sites.

Earlier this month Adm. Philip Davidson told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions. … And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years.”

And in a hearing this week, Admiral John Aquilino, Biden’s pick to lead the America’s Indo-Pacific Command, said the Chinese army would be in a position to invade Taiwan “much closer than most think.

“We have to take this on, put those deterrence capabilities like [the Pacific Deterrence Initiative] in place in the near term and with urgency,” Aquilino said, referring to a mandate written into the 2021 National Defence Authorisation Act to fulfil the national defence strategy and maintain a military edge over China.

Those answers came in response to questions by Sen. Tom Cotton. Sen. Cotton himself noted that a possible date for that to happen could happen next year. He pointed out that Russia’s annexation of Crimea happened in the spring, just a few days after the end of the Winter Olympics in Russia. China is hosting the Winter Olympics next February in Beijing. You can watch the full exchange in the video below.

There have been calls to boycott the Winter Olympics in China because of the cultural genocide taking place in Xinjiang. We’ll have to see if that effort continues to pick up steam. What’s not in doubt is that China is looking to repeat in Taiwan what it did last year in Hong Kong. It’s only a matter of time and maybe not very much of it.