In a clear message to President Joe Biden, China sent at least 15 military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday, January 24, just four days after Biden’s Inauguration. This was the highest number of Chinese military aircraft breaching Taiwan’s ADIZ in one day so far this year.
Previously China would send between one and three planes into Taiwan’s ADIZ, though much larger numbers have also been seen in recent months.
The day before that, on Saturday January 23, China launched upwards of 13 military aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ.
Fifteen PLA aircraft (Y-8 ASW*2、SU-30*2、J-16*4、J-10*6、Y-8 RECCE*1) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on Jan. 24, 2021. Please check our official website for more information: https://t.co/lJ8ddkMvl5 pic.twitter.com/tQV0SoPuWR
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) January 24, 2021
Thirteen PLA aircraft (Y-8 ASW*1、H-6K*8、J-16*4) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on Jan. 23, 2021. Please check our official website for more information: https://t.co/amqJjvHyAj pic.twitter.com/tE1XlHdWmO
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) January 23, 2021
Per the Taiwanese (Republic of China) Ministry of Defense (ROC MOD), one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, four J-16 jet fighters and eight multi-engine long-range H-6k bombers were included in Saturday’s 13 aircraft incursion. Taiwan’s Air Force reportedly scrambled a total of 26 jet fighters to counter seven of these incursions in the southwest corner of its ADIZ, the Liberty Times reported.
The Sunday incursions with 15 aircraft, according to the ROC MOD, consisted of two Y-8s, SU-30 strike fighters, four J-16 fighters, six J-10 fighters, and one Y-8 reconnaissance plane. These incursions were all near the Pratas Islands.
“Airborne alert sorties had been tasked, radio warnings issued, and air defense missile systems deployed to monitor the activity,” the ROC MOD said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group entered the South China Sea on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas,” the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
“After sailing through these waters throughout my 30-year career, it’s great to be in the South China Sea again, conducting routine operations, promoting freedom of the seas, and reassuring allies and partners,” Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of the strike group, was quoted as saying by NBC News.
Significantly, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, attended Biden’s swearing-in on Wednesday. According to ABS-CBN News, Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the Biden National Security Council, said soon after that the U.S. commitment to Taiwan was “rock-solid.”
Joe Biden will now have to show how he will respond to an increasingly belligerent China, even as he has said at times prior to his election that he intends to ‘normalize’ relations with the communist regime, after President Trump’s more assertive and confrontational approach.