Over four dozen Chinese military aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone on Monday, in the latest round in a weekend of provocation that has seen nearly 150 sorties since Friday as state media issued threats to Australia.
Starting Friday, according to the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, China’s People’s Liberation Army flew 38 aircraft near southwest Taiwan. The country flew 39 more planes on Saturday and 16 the next day.
The US State Department released a statement warning China on Sunday against the “provocative military activity,” calling it “destabilizing.”
“The United States is very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan.”
“We have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. We will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability, and we will maintain our commitments as outlined in the Three Communiqués, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the Six Assurances.”
Price added that the US’s commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.”
“We will continue to stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values and deepen our ties with democratic Taiwan.”
Shortly after the State Department’s statement was released, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense claimed another 52 Chinese military aircraft flew into its air defense zone, the most in one day.
China is said to have flown around 145 flights near or in Taiwan’s airspace over the last four days.
The aircraft include Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, Sukhoi SU-30 fighter jets and Xian H-6 twin-engine bombers. Also deployed were Shaanxi Y-8 ASW turbo transport submarine hunters and a Shaanxi KJ-500 early warning aircraft.
Amid the flyover missions, Chinese state media issued several threats toward Taiwan and its ally Australia, questioning whether the nation will join Taiwan in becoming “cannon fodder,” after Taiwan’s foreign minister requested help from the Oceanic country.
China’s Global Times newspaper tweeted the warning on Monday.
“Since Taiwan authorities are preparing for war, let’s see whether Australia is willing to accompany Taiwan separatist regime to become cannon fodder,” the account wrote.
Hu Zijin, editor for the Global Times, also tweeted that it is “only a matter of time before Taiwan’s separatist authorities fall,” praising the weekend’s military flights.
In response to China’s flyover missions, Taipei scrambled its own aircraft, issued radio warnings and deployed air defense missile systems.
While the US does not treat Taiwan as an entirely independent nation, it has come to its defense over Chinese attempts to claim the sovereign nation.
According to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US is obligated to preserve the “human rights of the people of Taiwan” and provide and support defense against China.
In recent months, China has threatened other countries against joining the US in that pledge.