China flies 52 aircraft into Taiwan’s airspace in largest mission ever as sabre-rattling state media asks ‘whether Australia is willing to accompany Taiwan… to become cannon fodder’
Taipei said 34 J-16 fighters accompanied 12 H-6 nuclear-capable bombers, two Su-30 jets and other military planes into its ‘air defence identification zone’ on Monday.
It comes after a weekend in which China flew a total of 93 aircraft close to the island in five separate missions – the largest of which comprised 25 planes.
Meanwhile Chinese state media issued chilling new threats, asking whether ‘Australia is willing to accompany Taiwan… to become cannon fodder’ after the island’s foreign minister reached out for help preparing its defences.
China’s Global Times newspaper, a mouthpiece for the state, tweeted the threat on Monday, responding minister Joseph Wu who had asked Australia and other ‘like-minded’ nations to share military intelligence and security information.
Separately, Global Times editor Hu Xijin tweeted that it is ‘only a matter of time before Taiwan’s separatist authorities fall’ – describing the weekend’s show-of-force as a ‘military parade’ to mark China’s national day.
But, unlike the traditional ‘guard of honour’ used at military parades, the forces which flew at the weekend ‘are fighting forces aimed at actual combat’, an editorial in the same newspaper added.
‘The increase in the number of aircraft showed the PLA Air Force’s operational capabilities,’ the newspaper said, adding: ‘It is a clear and unmistakable declaration of China’s sovereignty over the island.’
The operations are designed to familiarise pilots with ‘battlefield conditions’ so that ‘once the order to attack is given’ they will be able to fight like ‘experienced veterans’, the editorial concluded.
China has flown near-daily missions into Taiwan’s airspace since the start of the year, the island’s government has said, though most comprise only one aircraft.
But that changed dramatically at the weekend, with 38 planes flown into the ‘air defence identification zone’ on Friday.
The planes flew in two separate sorties, the first of which comprised 25 planes and flew during the day and the second of which had 19 aircraft and flew at night.
On Saturday another 39 aircraft flew in two separate sorties – one of 20 aircraft during the day and another of 19 aircraft at night.
Sunday saw an additional 16 planes fly close to the island in a single incursion.
More to follow…