Taiwan recorded a record 446 incursions by Chinese military aircraft into its air defense space in August, coinciding with Beijing’s angry reaction to a visit by US lawmakers to the island.
The sharp increase in incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) came as China launched large-scale military exercises in protest of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. and other politicians.
Taiwan’s 23 million people live under the constant threat of invasion by China, which regards the democratically governed island as part of its territory, which it has promised to take one day even by force if necessary.
For a week after Pelosi’s visit in early August, China deployed warships, missiles and fighter jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan in its most aggressive exercises since the mid-1990s.
In them, 446 Chinese planes, mostly fighters, crossed Taiwan’s ADIZ, according to a database compiled by AFP based on figures released by the Taiwanese Defense Ministry.
That monthly total tops the 380 sorties by Chinese aircraft in all of 2020.
So far this year, Chinese aircraft have made at least 1,068 individual sorties in ADIZ, up from 969 in all of 2021.
Before August, the month with the most raids since Taiwan began publishing the formation two years ago was October 2021, with 196.
Taiwanese ADIZ is much larger than its airspace and overlaps with mainland Chinese ADIZ.
The intense Chinese war activity puts pressure on the Taiwanese armed forces, surpassed by its neighbor, especially its aging fleet of combat aircraft.
Taiwan last week announced a historic increase in its 2023 defense budget to NT$586.3 billion (US$19.2 billion) following mounting war threats from China.