Chinese military planes simulated missile attacks on a nearby US aircraft carrier during a foray into Taiwan’s air defense zone three days after Joe Biden’s inauguration, according to intelligence from the United States and its officials. allies.
The People’s Liberation Army sent 11 planes to the southwest corner of Taiwan’s air defense zone on January 23, and 15 planes to the same area the next day, according to the Taiwan Defense Ministry.
People familiar with intelligence gathered by the United States and its allies said the bombers and some of the fighter jets involved were conducting an exercise using a group of United States Navy ships. led by the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the same area as a simulated target.
H-6 bomber pilots could be overheard in cockpit conversations confirming orders to simulate targeting and launch anti-ship missiles against the aircraft carrier, people said.
The revelations highlight that the intense military competition between the two superpowers Taiwan and the South China Sea has not softened, posing a challenge to any attempt the Biden administration might make to improve its relationship with Beijing.
China’s development of missiles capable of targeting U.S. ships and planes in the region has helped counter U.S. military dominance in Asia and the Western Pacific. Although Chinese experts have said Beijing remains reluctant to risk open conflict with the United States, the PLA’s new muscle is forcing the United States to adjust its posture and strategy in Asia.
The area where Taipei reported the incursions last weekend is between Pratas, an atoll held by Taiwan in the northern part of the South China Sea, and Taiwan proper, where the Taiwan Strait meets the Bashi Channel, a main passage between the Western Pacific and the South China Sea.
“The Su-30 [fighters] can carry Kh-31 anti-ship missiles, and H-6 bombers and J-16 fighters can both carry YJ anti-ship missiles, ”said Su Tzu-yun, analyst at the National Defense Institute and security research. think tank supported by the Ministry of Defense of Taiwan. “The three planes are clearly a demonstration of threat to surface ships.”
On January 23, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the U.S. strike group had sailed in the South China Sea that day. According to vessel tracking data, it passed through the Bashi Canal.
Chinese air maneuvers elicited a strong response the new US administration, which has warned Beijing to stop bullying Taiwan.
“We urge Beijing to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan,” the US State Department said, adding that China should remember that Washington’s relationship with Taipei was “rock solid.” .
Mr Biden sent another message to China reaffirming the United States’ commitment to help Japan defend the Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing, which calls them the Diaoyu.
Chinese experts in Washington expect Mr. Biden to take a less chaotic approach than former President Donald Trump in shaping his policy.
An early sign that relations between Washington and Beijing would remain strained over Taiwan and a range of other issues, Antony Blinken, the new US secretary of state, said this week he agreed with the Trump administration, which declared the Chinese government’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims in detention camps in Xinjiang province amounted to “genocide.”
During his confirmation hearing last week, Mr Blinken said that while he disagreed with the way Mr Trump had implemented his policy towards China, he had ” reason to take a harsher approach ”.
According to an announcement by the China Maritime Security Administration, the PLA is conducting another exercise in the South China Sea, which is due to end on Saturday. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has reported larger-than-average Chinese air incursions into its air defense zone since the latter exercise began on Wednesday.