Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense announced on Tuesday that China had sent 18 nuclear-capable Xian H-6 bombers into Taiwan’s airspce during the previous 24 hours. While China has consistently been sending bombers to fly over Taiwan daily, the 18 bombers set a new record of flights in one day.
The bombers were not the only aircraft in Taiwan’s airspace. Accompanying the bombers were a Shaanxi Y-8 propeller transport plane that was configured for anti-submarine warfare, a second Y-8 configured for reconnaissance, and a Shenyang J-11 fighter. Also detetected in the area were 8 other military aircraft and 3 surface warships. The H-6 bomber is capable of carrying up to 6 cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.
An analyst with Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) told Radio Free Asia, “By sending more and more strategic bombers with anti-access and area denial capabilities, China could be delivering a message that they are able to deny any foreign support to Taiwan.” The analyst, Jyh-Shyang Sheu added that the bombers appeared ready to “attack Taiwanese military targets but most importantly. to deny foreign reinforcement, such as from U.S. aircraft carriers.”
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The show of force coincided with the visit to Taiwan of Hagiuda Koici who is one of Japan’s most senior officials. Japan, which is updating its national security policy, is set to list China as an “unprecedented strategic challenge” in its revised national security strategy document.
In an editorial in the Chinese state-run Global Times, China’s dissatisfaction with the new label from Japan was expressed with the publication writing, “In our opinion, the insecurity shown by Japan is largely feigned to find excuses for teh loosening of contstrat on its military power. Every point Japan arches forward in this direction implicates the fracturing of the security pattern in teh entire East Asian region.”
Japn had initially intended to use the term “unprecedented strategic threat” but changed it to “challenge” in order to reduce tensions. However, Japan further aggravated China this week by agreeing to join the U.S. in tightening export controls on sending advanced computer chips to China. On Tuesday, Chinese leaders filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) stating that the U.S. is abusing export controls for political reasons and is interfering with global trade as a result of its actions.