China will send a large group of navy ships and warplanes, including fighter jets and bombers toward Taiwan over two days ahead of its annual military exercises aimed at defending itself against a possible invasion, the island’s defence ministry said on Wednesday.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army sent 38 warplanes and nine navy ships around Taiwan between 6 a.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday. From Wednesday morning afternoon, the army flew 30 more aircraft, including J-10 and J-16 fighter jets. Of these, 32 crossed the centre line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary considered a buffer between the island and the mainland. Later on Wednesday, another 23 aircraft crossed the centre line.
Taiwan is due to hold the annual Han Guang exercise later this month, in which its military will conduct combat readiness drills to ward off aggression. It will also conduct the annual Wan’an exercise which aims to prepare citizens for natural disasters and practice evacuation in the event of an air raid.
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and in recent years has shown displeasure over political activity in Taiwan by increasing the number of military aircraft it sends toward Taiwan. In the last year, it has started sending drones along with its naval ships to circle the waters near the island.
In Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s manoeuvres, the PLA flew H-6 bombers in a large loop south of Taiwan, passing over the island before turning back toward China’s southern coast. Its largest military exercise in recent years was in response to former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last August.
It fired missiles at the island in a significant escalation and military exercises disrupted trade routes across the Taiwan Strait and forced airliners to reroute their flights. In April, the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen, the current US In response to the meeting with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, the PLA conducted large-scale combat readiness exercises in the air and on the water around Taiwan.