| 2 October 2023, Monday |

Taiwan detects 84 Chinese warplanes and 33 warships near island in three days

Taiwan reported on Thursday, September 14th, that it had identified a total of 84 Chinese warplanes and 33 warships within the vicinity of its territory over the course of three days. This heightened military presence comes as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducts one of its most significant joint sea and air exercises in the Western Pacific in recent months.
Between Wednesday and Thursday morning, 68 PLA aircraft and 10 PLAN vessels around Taiwan were detected, the Taipei defence ministry said in a statement.

The previous day on Tuesday, Taiwan said it detected 35 warplanes around the island.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said that some of the planes and warships detected on Wednesday were heading to an unspecified location at the Western Pacific to “conduct joint sea and air training with the Shandong aircraft carrier.”

Movements spotted amidst Chinese military drills
Shandong is the first carrier built by the mainland and the PLA’s second battle group. The defence ministry said that it was spotted 60 nautical miles off Taiwan’s southernmost tip on Monday when it headed for combat training.

“Twenty-eight of them crossed the median line and entered our southwest air defence identification zone (ADIZ),” the ministry said, referring to the de facto line that separates the island from the mainland in the Taiwan Strait.

“Some of the warplanes headed towards the western Pacific through Bashi Channel to join the Shandong for a joint sea and air training.”

China has so far not officially commented on any drills being conducted in the Western Pacific.

But its Eastern Theatre Command, which organises drills around Taiwan, on Wednesday said that an “aviation unit” had carried out training “recently”, in a range of “thousands of kilometres.”

It, however, did not mention Taiwan.

Presence of Shandong rattles Taiwan
Though China regularly conducts military drills around Taiwan in a bid to assert its authority over the self-ruled island, the presence of Shandong aircraft carrier has rattled Taipei.

Major General Huang Wen-chi, of the ministry’s general staff for intelligence, said that Shandong would form a new risk for the island.

“The Shandong, flanked by such new destroyers as [the] Type 052C and Type O52D, evidently would form a considerable threat to our near-sea and coastal defence but the carrier still does not possess full capability in air and sea strikes,” he said in Taipei on Tuesday, reports South China Morning Post.

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