A US military reconnaissance plane was yesterday morning spotted flying near Taiwan’s southern airspace, marking the 12th time in the past three weeks that US military aircraft have been detected near Taiwan.
A US RC-135W Rivet Joint flew over the South China Sea, according to a flight chart posted to Twitter by the military air movement tracker Aircraft Spots.
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Shih Shun-wen (史順文) did not directly confirm the sighting, except to say that Taiwan’s armed forces are closely monitoring the nation’s surrounding waters and airspace.
US military aircraft have been spotted in the skies around Taiwan 12 times since March 25. Chinese military aircraft have been spotted at least six times since Jan. 23, according to publicly available information from Aircraft Spots and the Ministry of National Defense.
Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy spokesman Gao Xiucheng (高秀成) on Monday confirmed media reports that the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and several escort ships on Saturday passed through the Miyako Strait and waters east of Taiwan, en route to the South China Sea for annual training exercises.
Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, on Sunday said that China has expanded its maritime and air presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This is probably the main reason US reconnaissance planes have recently been spotted operating near the Bashi Channel — to monitor the movements of the People’s Liberation Army in the area,” Su said.
Taiwanese analysts have also said that the US and China are likely using the military movements to signal their continued commitment to the region, despite the challenges they have had in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
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