The information comes from Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense.
The large-scale operation by the People’s Liberation Army, China’s armed forces, comes as Beijing prepares for a possible blockade or all-out attack on Taiwan, which has raised serious concerns among US military leaders, the island’s main ally.
In a memo sent last Friday, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged US officials to be prepared for a war against China, starting in 2025, motivated by a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
As head of the US Air Mobility Command, Minihan has a deep understanding of the Chinese military. His remarks echo calls from other senior US military officials to prepare the country for conflict with China.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said 20 Chinese military planes on Tuesday crossed the center line in the Taiwan Strait, which has long been an unofficial buffer zone between the two sides separated since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the former Chinese Nationalist government fled to the island after its defeat by the Communists.
China considers Taiwan part of its territory, not a sovereign political entity, and has threatened to use force to take control of the island.
Taiwan’s armed forces “monitored the situation (…) and reacted to Chinese activities,” the defense ministry said today.
China sends warships, bombers, fighter jets and support planes into the airspace near Taiwan almost daily, hoping to deplete the island’s limited defense resources and reduce support for the region’s pro-independence leader, Tsai Ing- wen.
Chinese fighter jets also clashed with US and allied military aircraft in international airspace over the South and East China Seas in what Beijing described as dangerous and threatening maneuvers.
In August, a visit to Taipei by former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sparked strong protests from the Chinese government, which saw the trip as a provocation and launched military exercises around the island on an unprecedented scale.
China has repeatedly threatened to retaliate against countries that seek closer ties with Taiwan, but its attempts at intimidation have drawn backlash from European countries, Japan and the United States, which have increased the frequency of official contacts with Taipei.
Taiwan is due to hold presidential elections next year, but the pro-unification rapprochement between Beijing and the territory’s Nationalist Party has failed to resonate with Taiwanese voters, who in the last two elections have given victory to the Democratic Progressive Party. Party, which defends territorial independence.
Taiwan has responded to China’s threats by buying more defense weapons from the US and establishing informal ties with other countries, taking advantage of its high-tech industries and democratic system.
Mandatory military service for men was also extended from four months to one year, and opinion polls show high levels of support for increased defense spending to counter China’s threats.
In an interview with Lusa news agency, Admiral Lee Hsi-ming, Taiwan’s former deputy defense minister, advocated mobilizing and training the Taiwanese population to resist an “imminent” Chinese invasion through asymmetric warfare tactics.
“We need to break free from conventional thinking when it comes to defense,” said Lee Hsi-ming, who is also a researcher at the Project 2049 Institute, a Washington-based think tank, noting that the island, with nearly 24 million residents, he must maintain “combat readiness”, in the face of a conflict he considered “imminent”.
The military acknowledged Taiwan’s growing concern over defense and security issues following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.