Taiwanese air forces begin “Sky Dragon” exercises following increased Chinese raids

An Air Force pilot and soldier run toward an F-16V fighter jet for a night takeoff at Hualien Air Base (REUTERS/Ann Wang/file) (ANN WANG/)

The Taiwan Air Force began its annual exercises today Tien Lungeither “Sky Dragon”after, in recent months, incursions by Chinese military aircraft in the vicinity of the island have intensified, reported the official Taiwanese agency CNA, citing military sources.

The source indicated that the exercises Tien Lung of 2023 will be divided into competitive tests of the skills of the pilots and fighters for the air-ground combat, air-sea and air-airas well as in ground logistics support drills.

A Taiwanese F-16V fighter takes off from Hualien (Reuters)
A Taiwanese F-16V fighter takes off from Hualien (Reuters) (TAIWAN MILITARY NEWS AGENCY/)

According to CNA, in the exercises, which will last for five days, The F-16V and Mirage 2000 fighters will participate.

As in previous editions, the authorities of the island Air Force new aviation aces will be selected in different categories such as precision and aerial combat.

Since 2022, the Taiwanese Air Force has been under increasing pressure from incursions by Chinese aircraft in the air identification zone (ADIZ) of the island, which have already become routine in recent months.

A Chinese J-11 fighter flies over the Taiwan Strait near Pingtan (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (Ng Han Guan/)

The Air Force usually respond to approaches with the mobilization of some fighters to warn Chinese airplanes and to put missile systems on alert.

Traditionally, the maneuvers were carried out in a area that covers almost three quarters of the east coast of Taiwan, but now that China frequently sails off the east coast, the island military is strengthening the defenses in that areathe island’s media reported in previous editions.

Taipei recorded record numbers of Chinese fighter raidswith 103 aircraft on September 18, after which he denounced the “military harassment” from China.

Mirage 2000-5 aircraft at the Hsinchu Air Base in Hsinchu (REUTERS/Annabelle Chih)
Mirage 2000-5 aircraft at the Hsinchu Air Base in Hsinchu (REUTERS/Annabelle Chih) (ANNABELLE CHIH/)

Taiwan – where the Chinese nationalist army retreated after the defeat at the hands of the communist troops in the civil war – has autonomously governed since 1949although China claims sovereignty on the island, which he considers a rebel province for whose “reunification” he has not ruled out the use of force.

New threat from China

In fact, in a new threat, this Monday The Chinese Army warned that “it will not show mercy” in the face of “any act favorable to the independence of Taiwan”.

“It doesn’t matter who wants to separate Taiwan from China, or in any way. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will never accept it”said the general Zhang Youxiavice president of the Central Military Commission, the highest authority of the Chinese Army during the tenth edition of the Xiangshan regional forum on cooperation and security.

He added that Taiwan is part of the “core” of “China’s core interests”“, and that the principle of One China “It is a consensus shared by the international community.”

“China will never tolerate any attempt to separate the island from China,” the official said.

General Zhang Youxia, vice president of the Central Military Commission, the highest authority of the Chinese Army.  (EFE/EPA/FLORENCE LO)
General Zhang Youxia, vice president of the Central Military Commission, the highest authority of the Chinese Army. (EFE/EPA/FLORENCE LO) (FLORENCE LO/POOL/)

The statements come less than two months before the island celebrates presidential election and legislative elections, on January 13, to decide the direction of Taiwanese policy towards China, at a time of strong tensions between Taipei and Beijing.

The current vice president, William Laiof the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), leads the polls to win the elections.

Tensions between Taipei and Beijingconstant since the DPP came to power in 2016, worsened since last summer due to the visit of the then president of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosistrongly protested by the Chinese authorities.

Since then, Taipei has reported an increase in incursions by the Chinese Army in its vicinity, up to the record in September.

The self-governed island is one of the main reasons for friction between China and the US.since the North American country is Taiwan’s main arms supplier.

In that sense, Zhang pointed out today that “certain country”, in veiled reference to the United States, is “interfering in Asia-Pacific and in the internal affairs of other nations.”

“Wherever that country extends its hands, peace and tranquility are not possible,” Zhang said during the Forum, which started Sunday and runs through Tuesday.

At the event, marked by the absence of the former Minister of Defense Li Shangfufired last week and for whom a successor has not yet been designated – Zhang focused his speech on the call Global Security Initiativea set of principles proposed by the Chinese president, Xi Jinpingto resolve global conflicts and that criticizes the use of unilateral sanctions.

Zhang also noted, the newspaper reported South China Morning Postthat China instead seeks to “deepen its strategic cooperation and coordination with Russia on the basis of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.”

(With information from EFE)