Taipei: Taiwan Defence Minister Yen Te-fav revealed that over 8 per cent of the country’s military budget for this year has been spent on responding to China’s repeated intrusions.
“Addressing Taiwan’s legislature on Wednesday, Defence Minister Yen Te-fa said the People’s Liberation Army had conducted 1,710 air sorties and 1,029 maritime incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) this year,” South China Morning Post reported.
“After China’s repeated intrusions into Taiwan’s air defence zone, observers said that these incursions are meant to drain the air force while establishing People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as a regular presence in the area,” Lawrence Chung said in his article at South China Morning Post.
The incursions have also been designed to ramp up pressure on the island and lower the public’s guard to a potential attack, said the observers.
According to Chung, the PLA aircraft flew 217 sorties into the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ and 49 across the median line – the unofficial line which separates the island from the mainland.
In response, Taiwan’s air force and navy have mounted around 3,000 aircraft sorties to shadow, disperse and monitor the PLA aircraft, Yen said.
Military officials also confirmed that PLA pilots responded to two Taiwanese attempts to disperse them by shouting over radio channels that “there is no median line” and that the PLA should not be interrupted doing “routine training”, said the article on SCMP.
Yen further said that these frequent incursions of the PLA warplanes and vessels into Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ can mean that the PLA was preparing to set up a South China Sea air defence zone.
Analysts said the PLA aimed to turn the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ into its own area for military activities.
“By flying into Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ, the PLA aims to regularise its practice in the area,” said Chieh Chung, a national security researcher at National Policy Foundation, an opposition Kuomintang party think tank.
He also mentioned that the frequent fly-bys and military exercises were meant to further intimidate Taiwan and also allow the PLA to shift attention away from the coronavirus pandemic and economic gloom at home.
China has repeatedly threatened Taiwan with invasion and has adopted an aggressive policy to intimidate the self-governing island.
For decades, the Chinese government has claimed authority over Taiwan. Though Taiwan is not recognised by the UN, its government maintains a relationship with the US and does not accept the Chinese authority.