China completes record number of military flights near Taiwan as conflict fears soar

China would ‘swallow up Taiwan if they could’ says Wang Ting-Yu

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Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has reported 196 flights by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into its Air Defence Identification Zone (AIDZ) in October. The figure is almost double the previous record set in September when 119 incidents were detected.

Beijing continues to use its warplanes to exert political pressure on Taiwan, which President Xi regards as a wayward Chinese province.

Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng last month described the situation as “the most serious” in more than 40 years and called for more military spending.

The PLA flew the vast majority of its jets over the AIDZ – an unregulated airspace used to record aircraft activity – at the start of October during the 72nd National Day celebrations.

China says most of its aerial activity takes place in international airspace about 100 to 150 miles southwest of the island.

Chinese officials argue the purpose of the military presence is to target “Taiwan independence” and “external forces”, in an apparent swipe at the US.

This week a new report by the Pentagon renewed concerns of China taking back control of Taiwan.

A US official cited the possibility that China could work on options for everything from a joint blockade campaign against Taiwan to a full-scale invasion.

The official said: “They have a range of different things that they are wanting to be prepared to do.”

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted the threat was not immediate but could not be ruled out in the future.

Speaking to the Aspen Security Forum, he said: “Based on my analysis of China, I don’t think that it is likely in the near future, being defined as, you know, six, 12, maybe 24 months, that kind of window.

“Having said that, though, the Chinese are clearly and unambiguously building the capability to provide those options to the national leadership if they so choose at some point in the future.

“But near future? Probably not. But anything can happen.”

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Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but Beijing continues to claim the island as its own territory.

The Chinese Communist Party say Taiwan is part of “one-China” rather than a separate country.

The continued stranglehold over Taiwan by President Xi Jinping has made it difficult for the island to form ties with the international community.

In the wake of the continued aggression, Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Tuesday it will boost training of its reserve forces next year.

In a statement, the ministry confirmed mandatory refresher training for some reserve forces, including combat exercises, will be increased to 14 days to “effectively elevate combat capability of the reserve forces”

The new programme will be applied to about 13 percent of the 110,000 reservists it plans to train in 2022.
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