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China flies military planes near Taiwan in Biden’s early test



Taiwan’s defense ministry said 13 Chinese planes entered the southwestern part of the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday, followed by 15 on Sunday, prompting Taipei to take protective measures, including a mix of combat Chinese flight observation aircraft.

According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, Chinese military planes flew more than 380 flights in the island’s air defense identification area last year. The US Federal Aviation Administration defines ADIZ as “a defined area of ​​airspace above land or water in which a State requires the immediate and positive identification, location and control of aircraft air traffic in the interests of national security.”
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Although the frequency of such training has increased in recent years, the timing and composition of the latest formations – mostly fighter jets and bombers – appear to have been aimed at sending a message to the new administration in Washington.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of nearly 24 million people located off the southeast coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two countries have been ruled separately for more than seven decades.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised that Beijing will never allow the island to become independent and has refused to rule out the use of force if necessary.

In a statement Saturday, the Biden administration called on Beijing to stop trying to intimidate Taiwan and pledged support for a democratic government in Taipei.

“We call on Beijing to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan and instead engage in a meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected officials,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price, adding that US-Taiwan ties are deepening. Washington continues to commit to self-government on the island.

The United States has shown a strong commitment to defending Taiwan during the Trump administration by approving the sale of advanced military equipment to Taipei, including F-16 fighter jets, while sending high-level envoys to the island, and the two moves angered Beijing.
In an early demonstration of support by the Biden administration for the island, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States, Xiao Bi-Him, attended Biden’s inauguration last week. It was the first such official invitation to a Taipei government official since 1979, when Washington established formal diplomatic ties with Beijing. The same day, Beijing announced sanctions against outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other senior Trump officials, accusing them of “prejudice and hatred of China.”

American carrier in the South China Sea

In addition to supporting Taiwan, Price Department spokesman said Saturday that Washington will face other Indo-Pacific friends and allies as China intensifies its military activities in the region.

In a show of solidarity over the weekend, a US Navy strike group entered the South China Sea, the first deployment of one of the 100,000-tonne warships with more than 60 aircraft during the Biden administration.

USS guided missile destroyer John S. McCain, at the rear, and the Royal Australian Fleet, HMAS Ballarat, sailed together during integrated operations in the South China Sea in October.

A U.S. Navy statement said the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its escorted cruisers and destroyers were in a planned deployment to maintain the freedom of the seas in the South China Sea of ​​1.3 million square miles, almost all of which China claims for its sovereign territory.

“As two-thirds of world trade travels through this very important region, it is vital that we maintain our presence and continue to promote rules-based rules,” the counteradm said. Doug Verissimo, commander of Carrier Strike Group Nine, in a statement.

But in late 2020, China said military movements such as Roosevelt’s strike group had fueled tensions.

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“Some countries outside the region are coming from afar to strain their military muscles, ignite confrontations and create tensions in the South China Sea, which is the main reason for the ‘militarization’ of the region,” Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Tan Kefei told regular press briefing.

Last year, the U.S. Navy twice sent its aircraft carriers, the world’s largest warships, to the South China Sea twice for double exercises, something it hadn’t done in six years.

Washington also conducts regular freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, most recently in December. These include US warships that sail within 12 nautical miles of coastlines that nations can claim for their territorial waters.

China’s new Coast Guard law

On Friday, Beijing gave another indication of how it can tighten control over the waters it claims in the region by passing a new law that allows its coastguards to fire on foreign vessels.

The law, which takes effect on February 1, also allows the Coast Guard to destroy foreign structures built on China’s claimed reefs and islands, as well as to create exclusion zones to prevent foreign vessels.

The law could not only increase the chances of confrontation between China and other South China plaintiffs – which include Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan – but also in the East China Sea, where China and Japan are challenging sovereignty over an island group known as Senkakus in Japan and Diaoy in China.
The Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands are shown in a photo in a file.
On its English news website on Monday, the Chinese military specifically referred to the Japanese-controlled islands when it announced the entry into force of the law, with a headline saying it defended Beijing’s sovereignty over the uninhabited rock chain, 1,900 kilometers away. southwest of Tokyo.

“The new Coast Guard law shows China’s clear attitude and determination to defend its sovereignty,” the report said, citing Lu Yaodong, a research fellow at the Institute for Japanese Studies at the Chinese State Academy of Social Sciences.

“Regular patrols near the Diaoyu Islands will be guaranteed by law,” Lu said.

Chinese vessels spent a record amount of time in the waters around the islands last year, condemning Tokyo. Washington has repeatedly stated that the islands are covered by the US-Japan Mutual Defense Agreement, which will oblige the United States to respond to any Chinese action against Japanese ships there.


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