Taiwan has spotted Chinese drones circling the Taipei-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea & may shoot them down if they stray too close.
On April 7th, 15 Chinese military aircraft, including 12 fighter jets, flew into the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
The warplanes in question were eight J-10 fighters, four J-16 fighters, two KJ-500 airborne early warning and control planes, and one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft.
Analysts have linked this week’s activity with the move south of China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier, earlier on April 5th.
Four People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Shenyang J-16 fighter planes, four Chengdu J-10 fighter jets, and one Shaanxi KJ-500 early warning and control aircraft entered the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND). In addition, one Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare plane flew into the southwest and southeast corners of Taiwan’s identification zone.
In response, Taiwan scrambled planes, issued radio warnings, and deployed air defense missile systems to track the PLAAF planes. An ADIZ is an area that extends beyond a country’s air space where air traffic controllers ask incoming aircraft to identify themselves.
On April 7th, the US warned China against its “increasingly aggressive” moves towards Taiwan, as well as the Philippines.
State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated at a regular briefing that the US commitment to Taiwan was “rock solid.”
“An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” Price said.
“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef,” Price said.
Price voiced “concern” about the Chinese moves.
“The United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan.”
President Joe Biden has vowed a robust defense of allies and, in a rare point of continuity with his predecessor Donald Trump, has supported strong pushback against Chinese assertiveness.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said the military threat against his country is increasing, and while he said it was not yet “particularly alarming,” the Chinese military in the last couple of years has been conducting what he called “real combat-type” exercises closer to the island.
“We are willing to defend ourselves, that’s without any question,” Wu said. “We will fight a war if we need to fight a war, and if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day, then we will defend ourselves to the very last day.“
Taiwan has spotted Chinese drones circling the Taipei-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea and may shoot them down if they stray too close, a government minister said.
Speaking at parliament, Lee Chung-wei, who heads the Ocean Affairs Council under whose purview the Coast Guard falls, said that they had recently spotted Chinese drones circling the Pratas, though they have not flown over the islands.
“They have never entered our restricted waters and airspace, they’ve just flown around them at a certain distance,” Lee said.
Asked how the Coast Guard would react if a Chinese drone entered that restricted zone, Lee said they had rules of engagement.
“After it enters it will be handled under the rules. If we need to open fire, we open fire.”