China makes second largest Taiwan defence zone incursion this year
by AFP Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) May 31, 2022
– ‘Increasingly provocative’ –
The United States last week accused Beijing of raising tensions over the island, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken specifically mentioning aircraft incursions as an example of “increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity”.
Blinken’s remarks came after US President Joe Biden appeared to break decades of US policy when, in response to a question on a visit to Japan, he said Washington would defend Taiwan militarily if it is attacked by China.
But the White House has since insisted its policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether or not it would intervene has not changed.
There is growing bipartisan discussion in Washington over whether to switch to “strategic clarity” given Beijing’s increasingly aggressive approach to cross-strait relations, epitomised by the air incursions.
US senators have made multiple trips to the island in a show of support — a group led by Republican Lindsey Graham visited in April, and Democrat Tammy Duckworth landed in Taipei on Monday.
Duckworth was one of the main sponsors of the Taiwan Partnership Act, which aims to deepen security ties between Taipei and Washington. It has yet to be voted on or become law.
But after a meeting with Duckworth on Tuesday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen suggested that some form of link-up was already happening.
“As a result (of the Act), the US Department of Defence is now actively planning cooperation between the National Guard and Taiwan’s defence forces,” Tsai said in a statement, without explaining further.
– Constant alert –
Last year, Taiwan recorded 969 incursions by Chinese warplanes into its ADIZ, according to an AFP database — more than double the roughly 380 carried out in 2020.
The most number of aircraft China has sent in a single day was 56 on October 4, 2021.
That month saw a record 196 incursions, mostly around China’s annual national day celebrations.
So far in 2022 Taiwan has reported 465 incursions, a near 50 percent increase on the same period last year.
The sheer number of sorties has put the air force under immense pressure, and it has suffered a string of fatal accidents in recent years.
On Tuesday local media reported that a pilot had died after crashing a trainer jet in southern Kaohsiung.
It is not the first deadly crash this year — in January one of Taiwan’s most advanced fighter jets, an F-16V, plunged into the sea.
Last March, Taiwan grounded all military aircraft after a pilot was killed and another went missing when their fighters collided mid-air in the third fatal crash in less than six months.
Blinken denounces China on Taiwan, says US stance unchanged
by AFP Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 26, 2022
Hailing Taiwan as a “vibrant democracy and leading economy,” Blinken said that the United States would pursue its “strong unofficial relationship” including providing arms but reiterated that the United States recognizes only Beijing.
“We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side, we do not support Taiwan independence and we expect cross-strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means,” he said.
Biden appeared to break decades of US policy on a weekend visit to Japan by saying in response to a question that the United States would defend Taiwan militarily if it is attacked by China.
He later insisted there was no change in the US stance of “strategic ambiguity” on whether Washington would intervene more directly than providing weapons to Taiwan.
China claims Taiwan, where the mainland’s nationalists fled in 1949 after losing the civil war to the communists, to be a province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
The United States switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Shoichi Sugiyama, Ph.D.