The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday said it is fully aware of China’s military activities after photographs of a Chinese bomber said to be flying around Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) and an unidentified mountain range in Taiwan emerged online.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force on Friday published a photograph on a popular Chinese microblogging site of an airborne Xian H-6K bomber. Two mountain peaks visible in the background of the image were said by netizens to be either Yushan (玉山) in central Taiwan or Dawushan (大武山) in Pingtung County.
The post did not identify the mountains, with the accompanying text only describing it as “a very meaningful picture.”
Later on Saturday, Chinese netizens disseminated another undated photograph showing the nuclear-capable bomber flying over an island thought to be Taitung County’s Orchid Island.
The images, which were widely reposted by Chinese and Taiwanese online, were said to be taken when Chinese military aircraft carried out training missions around Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. The Chinese air force has conducted two such exercises since Nov. 25.
Ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) yesterday said that all Chinese air force exercises were conducted outside Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, adding that it had closely monitored all flights.
Asked whether China had held another training exercise, Chen said the photographs must have been taken some time before the Nov. 25 and Dec. 10 exercises, adding that it was pure speculation to associate the peaks and island in the photographs with Taiwan.
“[The release] is a typical act of propaganda [employed by China], and the [Taiwanese] media are helping China in its ‘advertising campaign,’” he said.
“The goal [of the photographs’ release] is to affect Taiwanese psychologically. There will probably be another picture released tomorrow, as China must be thrilled with the reaction of the Taiwanese media,” he added.
Asked if the pictures were doctored — as has been speculated in military circles — Chen refused to comment, but reiterated that Chinese military aircraft have not intruded into Taiwan’s air defense zone and that the media should not go along with China’s ploys.
The picture of an H-6K bomber flying around an island was reportedly first published by China’s Xinhua news agency on Sept. 13, one day after a training mission in which an unidentified number of H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters, J-11 fighters and air tankers flew to the West Pacific via the Bashi Strait to practice reconnaissance, sea surface cruising and inflight refueling.
China’s air force carried out four long-distance exercises this year on Sept. 12, Sept. 25, Nov. 25 and Dec. 10, with military aircraft circling around Taiwan’s airspace in some exercises, the ministry said.
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