Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it detected 103 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes operating around Taiwan from 6 am Sunday to 6 am Monday, the most in a 24-hour period since Taipei began releasing the figures in September 2020.
According to The New York Times, the previous daily high was 91, which was recorded on April 10, when China was conducting major drills around the island in response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in California.
China has significantly stepped up its military activity around Taiwan in response to the island’s growing military and diplomatic ties with the US. Most notable was the massive live-fire exercises that the PLA held in response to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting the island in August 2022.
Out of the 103 PLA aircraft reported by the Taiwanese Defense Ministry on Monday, 40 crossed the median line or entered the southwest and southeast corners of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Taiwan’s ADIZ extends far beyond its airspace, and there’s no indication the PLA aircraft came that close to the island.
PLA Aircraft used to avoid crossing the median line, which acts as an informal barrier between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, but that’s changed since Pelosi’s visit. Now, PLA aircraft regularly fly to the Taiwanese side of the Strait.
Last week, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said it detected 68 PLA aircraft in a 24-hour period as the Chinese military was conducting major drills in the western Pacific. The uptick in Chinese activity came after a series of US exercises in the region, including drills with Australia, Japan, and the Philippines in the South China Sea, exercises with Indonesia, and a joint US-Canadian transit of the Taiwan Strait.
The US is increasing its military activity in the region and ties with Taiwan in the name of deterrence, but it has brought about a heavier Chinese military presence. Beijing has made clear to the US that Taiwan is a major red line, but Washington shows no sign of backing down.