PLA warships, aircraft spotted near Taiwan

Original text from: Taipei Times

Aaron Tu and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writer

Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense

The Ministry of National Defense yesterday confirmed that Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fighter jets and warships were again sighted near Taiwan early yesterday morning.The sighting suggests a resumption of PLA activity near Taiwan after a cessation of such activities since June. The PLA had this year conducted such exercises six times before June.

Aircraft including Xian H-6 bombers, Shaanxi Y-8 military transports and Sukhoi Su-30 fighters took off from various airfields in Guangdong Province and flew over the Bashi Channel into the Pacific before returning to their home bases, the ministry said.

Two PLA Navy vessels were also spotted in the western Pacific just outside of Taiwan’s northeastern air defense identification zone, likely accompanying the PLA aircraft, the ministry said, but did not elaborate on the type of ships.

The aircraft were conducting a mid to long-range flight exercise, the PLA said.

The PLA has conducted long-range flight exercises since 2013, and last year alone PLA aircraft were sighted outside of the nation’s eastern air defense identification zone 12 times, a report compiled by the ministry’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research showed.

The inclusion of H-6 bombers, which are reportedly capable of reaching Guam, is indicative of the PLA’s plans to deny the US entry into the region, the report said.

During a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in October, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said that despite the military being on alert around the clock, the situation was still grave for Taiwan.

The halting of long-range exercises since June does not preclude their resumption, and the PLA has in the interim continued with drills and exercises targeting Taiwan, he said at the time.

The military would continue to devote efforts to maintaining regional stability and peace, he said, adding that the military had kept tabs on PLA activity and nothing was out of line.

The Presidential Office said yesterday that any military actions that escalate tension in the region and damage relations between Taiwan and China are irresponsible and are not welcomed by the international community.

Additional reporting by CNA