Chapter 5 The Evolution of the Patterns of the CPC’s Maritime Patrol Aircrafts
Division of Chinese Politics, Military and Warfighting Concepts
Si-Fu Ou Research Fellow and Director
In the early years, the CPC’s military was not strong enough and their aircraft seldom went to sea, and Taiwan even had the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) delineated to the Chinese interior. In 1999, President Lí Teng-hui proposed the “two-state” theory, in which Chinese aircrafts began to fly along the Taiwan Strait west of the median line and crossed the median line. With the expansion of CPC military power, the PLA has been conducting more and more long-distance training flights, including crossing the median line, flying over the East China Sea, flying over the Sea of Japan, flying through the Miyako Strait and out of the Western Pacific Ocean, circling Taiwan’s main island, flying out of the Bashi Channel, flying over the South China Sea, and intruding into Taiwan’s southwest Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The PLA emphasized that the soldiers are trained where the war is fought.
The CPC believes that the Air Force of the CPLA is flying around the motherland, even claiming that the mountain behind the cloud of the H-6K is Yushan, which is clearly a political intimidation or military coercion tactic by Beijing. There are different views within Taiwan as to whether the Ministry of National Defense will announce the incursions by Chinese aircrafts. Some people think that there is no need to let CPC lead U.S. by the nose and announce the Chinese aircrafts’ activities each time, which is exactly what Beijing’s political intimidation or military coercion is doing to the Taiwanese people, causing panic and anxiety in Taiwan society. Others believe that Taiwan is already a mature democratic society and that the people have the right to know and the wisdom to judge for themselves. Not releasing the information is tantamount to giving Beijing the power of speech, leaving it to explain the nature of the Chinese aircrafts’ operations at will. In the past, the Ministry of National Defense selectively announced the movements of Chinese aircrafts in Taiwan, and the types and numbers of aircrafts were vaguely omitted, so that outsiders could not get a full picture. After September 17, 2020, the Ministry of National Defense began to release daily updates on the incursions by Chinese aircrafts in Taiwan, so that the outside world could have more concrete data for statistical and research purposes.
The Ministry of National Defense has begun releasing data on incursions by Chinese aircrafts in Taiwan, but the Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ fan page also publishes data, with discrepancies between the two, leading outsiders to question whether there are reservations. The Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan itself compiles statistics on incursions by Chinese aircrafts in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), and some of them include the activities of Chinese aircrafts west of the median line, which is different from the statistics only collected east of the median line. In this article, we use the official data as the basis for the study of the evolution of patterns of the CPC’s maritime patrol aircrafts, and do not cover the activities of the CPC’s to the west of the median line, in an attempt to find out the types and trends of these activities and how to respond to them.