33 Chinese Airplanes Surround Taiwan in Greatest Display of Strength Since Vote

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The Largest Show of Force by Chinese Military

The Ministry of National Defence in Taipei on Saturday reported that they detected the largest incursion by the Chinese military around Taiwan to date. Over a 24-hour period, a record-breaking 33 military planes and seven naval vessels from China were tracked near the island, a show of force regarded as significant given Taiwan’s recent critical elections.

The territorial claim on Taiwan by China is long-standing and Beijing has thus far not ruled out the use of force to ensure the island falls under its control. However, Taiwan has persistently maintained its self-rule.

Political Tensions Between China and Taiwan

Before the January elections in Taiwan, Beijing issued a stern warning to voters against electing presidential hopeful Lai Ching-te. Currently serving as Vice-President, Lai is considered by China as a “dangerous separatist”, who would instigate “war and decline” if selected to lead. Despite this opposition, Lai emerged victorious, marking the third consecutive term in office for the Democratic Progressive Party, which has steadfastly rejected China’s territorial claim to Taiwan.

Chinese Military Activites Around Taiwan

The statement from Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence highlighted that, amongst the military aircraft taped within the critical 24 hours, thirteen had “crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait”. The ministry also revealed that it had “monitored the situation” and accordingly deployed its own navy vessels, air patrol aircraft, and coastal missile systems. In addition, two Chinese balloons were spotted crossing the sensitive Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China.

US Lawmakers Visit to Taipei

The unprecedented show of force by China followed a meeting between President-elect Lai, his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim, and two visiting US lawmakers in Taipei. Their liaison sparked Beijing’s criticism, with Lai and Hsiao being singled out as an “independence duo”.

Known for his outspoken stances, Lai describes himself as a “pragmatic worker of Taiwan independence”, an issue that triggers a red line with China. However, in recent times, he seems to have toned down his rhetoric, pledging to carry on with current president Tsai Ing-wen’s cautious approach of preserving the status quo while reinforcing the island’s defence capabilities.

Impact on Diplomatic Relations

Lai’s election saw the Pacific nation of Nauru move its diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, reducing the already meager list of allies Taiwan has to a dozen. In another troubling news for Taiwan, the pro-Taiwan prime minister of Tuvalu, another ally, lost his seat in the parliament, according to election results announced recently.

This news comes from the source of Reader Wall.

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