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Global Times

PLA aircraft again surround Taiwan in drills with US intervention on mind

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun Published: Mar 30, 2021 07:46 PM

Warplanes of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) again surrounded the island of Taiwan from both west and east in an exercise on Monday after a similar drill on Friday, and this time additional aircraft crossed the Miyako Strait to reach Taiwan's eastern side.

The recent exercises show that the PLA is continuing to increase its combat preparedness by making its routine exercises more complex and realistic and taking possible US and Japanese interventions into consideration, Chinese mainland analysts said on Tuesday.

Some 10 PLA aircraft - four J-16 and four J-10 fighter jets, a KJ-500 early warning aircraft and a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft - entered Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on Monday, with the Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft flying across the Bashi Channel to the southeast to the island before returning, the island's defense authorities said.

The flight paths of the warplanes on Monday were similar to those in the exercise on Friday, which was the largest featuring 20 PLA aircraft. But unlike the Friday exercise, the PLA sent another group of warplanes on Monday that were not observed by Taiwan island's defense authorities, but Japan's.

A Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft and a Y-9 patrol aircraft - often referred to as the Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft - on Monday flew across and then returned from the Miyako Strait, with the Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft flying close to the eastern side of Taiwan island before returning, according to a press release by Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff.

This means Taiwan island was surrounded from both west and east, with the PLA coming from different directions, analysts said.

To resolve the Taiwan question, no matter through peaceful or military means, military strength is always needed as a basis, Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The PLA must be able to deter Taiwan secessionist forces from all directions, and the recent exercises were very much needed and aimed at achieving this goal, Xu said.

More, larger exercises could take place in the future, Xu predicted.

Other experts reached by the Global Times pointed out that PLA exercises to the east of Taiwan mean the PLA can not only strike military facilities on the east of the island, but also lock down the island entirely from possible interventions by US and Japanese forces.

A separate press release by Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff on Friday said that a PLA Navy flotilla consisted of the Type 055 guided missile destroyer Nanchang, the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Chengdu and the Type 054A guided missile frigate Daqing left the Sea of Japan from the Tsushima Strait and headed toward the East China Sea on Thursday, after entering the Sea of Japan a week earlier.

This is the first time a Type 055 destroyer, China's most advanced 10,000 ton-class destroyer, has conducted similar exercises, reports said.

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