China has demonstrated its military prowess by conducting a flight around Taiwan using an uncrewed combat aircraft, as reported by Taiwan’s defense ministry. This move showcases China’s ability to target Taiwan’s east coast bases while coinciding with the transit of a US maritime patrol aircraft through the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing has been increasing military pressure on Taiwan over the past three years, aiming to compel Taipei to acknowledge its sovereignty claim over the democratically governed island. This heightened tension escalated further when China conducted war games near Taiwan following a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.
Taiwan’s defense ministry has revealed that 38 military aircraft had entered its air defense identification zone, including the TB-001 drone, known as the “twin-tailed scorpion,” which flew around Taiwan. Chieh Chung, a military researcher at Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation think tank, explained that in wartime, China would likely deploy the TB-001 drone to identify targets along Taiwan’s east coast, where the country houses its reserve forces.
China’s air force has previously carried out “island encirclement” missions using the crewed, nuclear-capable H-6 bomber. These activities, along with the recent display of military strength near Taiwan, have raised concerns among Washington and its allies, who have consistently expressed apprehension about China’s behavior and called for the status quo to remain unchanged, without any forced alteration.
On the same day, a US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft traversed the Taiwan Strait, and a senior French lawmaker confirmed that a warship from France had recently passed through this sensitive waterway. The United States and its allies have routinely conducted naval and aerial operations in the Taiwan Strait in recent years.
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet clarified that the Poseidon aircraft flew within international airspace during its transit. In a statement, the fleet declared, “By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations. The aircraft’s transit of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
China’s military claimed to have monitored the aircraft and accused the United States of engaging in provocative behavior within the strait. It is worth noting that China declared last year that it has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait, vehemently opposing the notion of it being international waters. Both the United States and Taiwan disagree with China’s stance on the matter.
During a meeting with President Tsai in Taipei, French Senate Vice President Alain Richard, a former defense minister, emphasized his country’s commitment to security by mentioning the recent passage of a French warship through the Taiwan Strait.