Taiwan watches rising Chinese military activity amid Beijing's Pacific carrier drills

Chinese carrier Shandong passes close to the Philippines on its way to the Pacific exercises

REUTERS July 11, 2024
Chinese and Taiwanese flags are seen in this illustration, August 6, 2022. PHOTO:REUTERS


Taiwan defence ministry said on Thursday it was closely watching Chinese military movements after a surge in warplanes joined drills with China's Shandong aircraft carrier in the Pacific.

The Chinese military exercises coincide with a NATO summit in Washington where a draft communique says China has become a decisive enabler of Russia's war effort in Ukraine and Beijing continues to pose systemic challenges to Europe and to security.

The Chinese carrier the Shandong passed close to the Philippines on its way to the Pacific exercises, Taiwan's defence minister said on Wednesday.

In its daily update on Chinese military activity over the past 24 and released on Thursday morning, Taiwan's defence ministry said it had detected 66 Chinese military aircraft operating around the island.

Of those, 39 passed to the south and southeast of Taiwan, the ministry said, having previously said it had detected 36 aircraft heading to the Western Pacific to carry out drills with the Chinese aircraft carrier the Shandong.

Taiwan's defence ministry released two pictures, a grainy black and white one of a Chinese J-16 fighter and a colour one of a nuclear-capable H-6 bomber, which it said were taken recently, but did not say exactly where or when.

"The military has a detailed grasp of the activities in the seas and waters around the Taiwan Strait, including of the Chinese communists aircraft and ships," ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang said in a statement, adding that included those aircraft and ships carrying out drills with the Shandong.

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Taiwan's forces had tracked the two Chinese warplanes photographed, he said.

China's defence ministry has not responded to requests for comment on the Shandong's activities.

Taiwan, which China views as its own territory, has complained of repeated Chinese military activity over the past four years as Beijing seeks to pressure the democratically governed island which rejects China's sovereignty claims.

A spokesperson for the Chinese mission to the European Union said the NATO summit's draft declaration is full of "belligerent rhetoric", and the China-related content has provocations, "lies, incitement and smears".

Ahead of the summit, Taiwan's foreign ministry told Reuters it "welcomes NATO's continuous increase in attention to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region in recent years, and its active strengthening of exchanges and interactions with countries in the Indo-Pacific region".

Taiwan is not the only hot spot security issue involving China - and Russia - in the region.

Japan's Self Defense Forces in a statement said it had tracked two Russian frigates on Wednesday passing between two of its islands at the western end of its Okinawa chain close to Taiwan heading southwest toward the Pacific Ocean.

China and the Philippines are locked in a confrontation in the disputed South China Sea and their encounters have grown more tense as Beijing presses its claims to shoals in waters that Manila says are well within its exclusive economic zone.

US allies Australia and Japan have been stepping up their military activities too.

The Philippines Air Force arrived in northern Australia on Wednesday on its first overseas deployment in six decades for combat practice alongside US and Australian fighter jets.

A Japanese navy destroyer also made a rare entry into China's territorial waters near Taiwan earlier this month without notifying China and sparking "serious concerns" from Beijing, Japanese media outlets reported late on Wednesday.



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