• Bombers and fighter jets from China’s air force conducted encirclement drills around Taiwan on Friday.
  • China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, and its hostility toward the island has grown since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.
  • In the past year, Beijing has stepped up such military exercises, designed to send a message to Taiwan that it will thwart what it sees as any moves toward independence.

BEIJING (Reuters) – Bombers and fighter jets from China’s air force conducted encirclement drills around Taiwan on Friday, the latest round of increasingly frequent military maneuvers near the self-ruled island that Taipei has denounced as intimidation.

China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, and its hostility toward the island has grown since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

In the past year, Beijing has stepped up such military exercises, designed to send a message to Taiwan that it will thwart what it sees as any moves toward independence, even as Tsai has pledged to maintain the status quo and keep the peace.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force said in a statement on its official microblog that H-6K bombers and surveillance aircraft flew in opposite directions around Taiwan, displaying “a new upgrade in combat capabilities”.

It said it was the first time Su-35 fighter jets had flown with the bombers through the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines.

China is in the midst of an ambitious program to modernize its armed forces, developing stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and advanced missiles as it strives to acquire a world-class military by the middle of the century.

That goal, coupled with an increasingly assertive stance in the disputed South China Sea waterway and around Taiwan, has rattled nerves around the region and in Washington.

Taiwan is well equipped with mostly U.S.-made weaponry, but has been pushing for Washington to sell it more advanced equipment, including new fighter jets, to help it better deter its giant neighbor.

Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and China has now shifted decisively in favor of China, which could probably overwhelm the island unless U.S. forces came quickly to its aid.

xxxx

Advertisements

One thought on “Chinese Fighters and Bombers Ring Taiwan, Showcasing their ‘Upgraded Combat Capabilities’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s