The Philippines and Taiwan sounded the alarm bells after detecting dozens of suspicious Chinese ships and aircraft across the South China Sea on Friday.
“To undermine the Taiwanese public’s confidence in the military’s ability to protect the island’s sovereignty, China’s near-daily air and naval incursions are likely to increase in number and intensity over the next year,” Craig Singleton said. a senior researcher. at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, he told Fox News Digital.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense released a statement saying it detected 37 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft and six PLA Navy vessels around Taiwan around 6 a.m.
An update found that 12 aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone.
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The island has responded by sending military aircraft and ships to monitor the Chinese vessels.
Around the same time, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) released a statement saying a patrol plane had sighted at least 26 suspected Chinese “maritime militia vessels” during a flyby of the South China Sea.
The vessels were spotted inside the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, which the Philippines has exclusive rights to marine resources, Radio Free Asia reported.
The aircraft “received inaudible radio signals, both in English and Chinese from CCG-5304 [a Chinese vessel] currently continuing to maintain a presence in the area,” the PCG said in a statement.
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Reporters on board the flight said they heard warnings that the plane was “entering the vicinity of Chinese territory” and were asked to leave the area.
“These latest exercises are broadly consistent with the ‘new normal’ that China has established in the region following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan last August, in which China now regularly conducts military maneuvers much closer to shores of Taiwan,” Singleton explained.
“All in all, China has doubled its annual incursions into the Taiwan Air Defense Zone from 538 in 2021 to 1,241 in 2022,” he continued. “Similarly, China has stepped up its cyber attacks against Taiwanese government and financial institutions, as well as launching disinformation campaigns aimed at subverting Taiwan’s political process.”
“Xi’s problem in all of this – which he may not yet realize – is that China’s aggressive attempts at sub-crisis maneuvers could have the unintended effect of catalyzing the very crisis of the superpower it seeks to avert,” he said. concluded Singleton. “The gray zone escalation game suggests such provocations could lead the United States and its allies to embrace more forceful counter-responses in the future.”
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Chinese military activity in the region follows reports that North Korea tested long-range cruise missiles off its east coast on Thursday. The official Pyongyang Central Korean News Agency said the four missiles flew for nearly three hours after being launched from the northeast coast, drew oval and figure-eight patterns above the sea, and proved they could hit targets. 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) away.
The launches, initially reported by Pyongyang and subsequently confirmed by the South Korean military, were intended to verify the reliability of the missiles and the rapid response capabilities of the weapons. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the details described by North Korea “have discrepancies”, but did not elaborate.
Launches cameas the US and South Korean defense officials held a Deterrence Strategy Committee (DSC TTX) tabletop exercise at the Pentagon. The day before, North Korea had launched a Hwasong-15 ICBM, with Kim Jong Un’s sister saying they were “using the Pacific” as a “firing range”.
“Given the recent DPRK aggressive nuclear policy and advances in nuclear capabilities, the TTX scenario focused on the possibility of the DPRK’s use of nuclear weapons,” the Pentagon said on Thursday.
Tensions in the region have risen after the United States held joint exercises with Britain and Australia to bolster air defenses against Chinese aircraft.
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The joint exercise, dubbed Red Flag, lasted three weeks, giving pilots a chance to practice combat against peer and near-peer technology. The exercises included F-22s, F-35s, B-52s, F-16s and C-130s based at Nellis Air Force Base.
“[China is] just the challenge of the pace at which we train so we’re ready… We think if we’re ready for China, we’re ready for anyone,” US Air Force Colonel Jared Hutchinson told Reuters.
Anders Hagstrom and The Associated Press contributed to this report.