Chris Lieberman, FISM News
Taiwan’s air force scrambled fighters in response to nine Chinese military jets entering Taiwanese airspace on Thursday, the same day that Russian forces invaded Ukraine, raising concerns that China could be planning a military intervention in the island nation.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense confirmed that eight Chinese J-16 fighters and one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft flew over the southwest region of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), which is the airspace a country controls over and around its borders for the sake of national security. In response, Taiwan’s “air defense missile systems deployed to monitor the activities,” according to the Ministry of Defense.
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) February 24, 2022
Taiwan has often complained about frequent Chinese encroachment into Taiwanese airspace over the past two years, including some major incursions. On Jan. 23, the Chinese sent 39 aircrafts into the ADIZ. Since then, Chinese flights have continued almost daily, but with fewer aircrafts. However, in all these flights Chinese fighters have not flown over or near Taiwan itself.
China does not recognize Taiwanese independence, claiming the country of over 24 million people to be a breakaway Chinese province, and has expressed the need to unite the island with the mainland, by force if necessary. Taiwan, on the other hand, has asserted their independence since 1949. China has frequently condemned nations, organizations, and individuals who recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty and has voiced its displeasure at Washington for supplying arms to Taiwan, particularly during the Trump administration.
Chinese officials issued a stern warning against Western involvement in their dealings with Taiwan. “We urge the U.S. side to recognize the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop playing with fire on the Taiwan issue,” said Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei.
Many worry that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could embolden Chinese President Xi Jinping to invade Taiwan, including former President Donald Trump. While discussing the crisis in Ukraine on The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, Trump said, “China is gonna be next,” and then added, “They’re waiting ’til after the Olympics. Now the Olympics ended, and look at your stopwatch, right?”
Trump also claimed that Putin and Xi are taking advantage of a weak Biden presidency, saying that if he were still president, “No, Putin would have never done it, and Xi would have never done it.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also raised alarms about the possibility of China following Russia’s lead. “If Ukraine is endangered, the shock will echo around the world,” he said at a security conference in Munich on Saturday. “And those echoes will be heard in East Asia, will be heard in Taiwan. People would draw the conclusion that aggression pays, and that might is right.”
While Taiwan has not reported any unusual Chinese military movements at this time, the country is on heightened alert in light of the Ukraine crisis. At a meeting on Wednesday, without specifically mentioning China, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen instructed the military to “ramp up their efforts to monitor and provide early warning of military developments in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding areas,” and prepare to “swiftly and effectively respond to any potential developments.”