Taiwan has scrambled its fighter planes, alerted the navy and activated missile systems in response to the operations of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which has mobilized, according to reports up to 6.00 local time, 34 jets and 9 warships around the island. This was announced by the Taipei Ministry of Defense, according to which 20 planes also passed the intra-strait average line, the unofficial buffer zone. The Chinese deployment, which has returned to full scale, has matured as Beijing appears to be increasing pressure on the island, alerting military leaders in the US, Taiwan’s ally.
Beijing claims the island as part of its territory
In a January memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan instructed officers to be prepared for a US-China conflict over Taiwan in 2025, the year following presidential elections to be held in both Taipei and the US. As the head of Air Mobility Command, Minihan is regarded as a top expert on China’s military, and his remarks echo calls to the United States to step up preparations. China claims the island as an “inalienable” part of its territory, although the People’s Republic has never controlled it, to be reunified even by force if necessary. China has been sending warships, bombers, fighters and support aircraft into the airspace near Taiwan on an almost daily basis, straining the island’s limited defense assets and attempting to reduce popular support for President Tsai Ing-wen. in power since 2016.
Continued threats from China to countries that help Taiwan
Beijing has repeatedly threatened retaliation against countries seeking closer ties with Taiwan, but intimidation attempts have backfired in Europe, Japan, the United States and other nations. For example, China filed a sharp protest on Tuesday with the Czech Republic whose newly elected president Petr Pavel had a telephone conversation with President Tsai. Taipei has responded to Chinese threats by buying from the US and leveraging the high-tech economy to strengthen foreign relations, as well as revitalizing the national defense industry. Compulsory military service for men has been extended from four months to a year and polls show high levels of popular support for increased defense spending against Chinese pressure. The general mobilization has been strengthened after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, seen as a possible example of a Chinese invasion of the island.