The military would scramble jets armed with missiles if necessary in response to China’s increased military activity near Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.
Ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) made the remarks in the wake of Chinese fighters being observed crossing the first island chain into the western Pacific on a regular basis.
The first island chain refers to the major archipelagos off the East Asian continental mainland, including the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyu islands, Taiwan and the northern Philippines.
In the latest Chinese military exercise, a Shaanxi Y-8 transport plane was on Monday spotted flying over the Bashi Channel — the waterway that separates Taiwan from the Philippines — then passing over the Miyako Strait that lies between two Japanese islands, before returning to its base in China.
It was the second consecutive day that Chinese military aircraft were observed undertaking similar missions over the western Pacific.
A day earlier, several Chinese reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft were observed flying on the same route.
According ministry data, Chinese military aircraft carried out nine drills near Taiwan after the conclusion of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress in October.
Photographs posted online by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force show its fighters armed with missiles.
In response, Chen said the nation’s military has measures in place and would respond appropriately to any developments by integrating ground troops, sea and air forces in accordance with standard operating procedures.
Asked whether the PLA’s frequent deployment of bombers and other aircraft in the international airspace around Taiwan on long-range training missions is aimed at collecting intelligence, Chen said that such training missions might help the Taiwanese military test its combat readiness.
The military could also collect important intelligence about the PLA through the response process, such as the aircraft’s flight zones and routes, and whether they are armed, Chen added.
He urged the public not to panic, saying that the armed forces have the confidence and ability to safeguard national security.
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