Tokyo has deployed its warplanes to track Chinese bombers and drones in the areas near Okinawa and Taiwan, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry. The move comes amid ongoing tensions in the region.
The Defense Ministry revealed that two Chinese H-6 bombers were detected flying through the strait between Okinawa and Miyako islands. Notably, Okinawa is home to Kadena Air Base, the largest US military site in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, Japanese military aircraft were dispatched to monitor a Chinese BZK-005 reconnaissance drone and another unidentified drone believed to be of Chinese origin, which were flying between Japan’s westernmost Yonaguni island and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported on Saturday morning that it had observed 32 Chinese military aircraft and nine warships near the island. It further stated that 20 planes, including eight J-10 and two Su-30 fighters, had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait or entered the island’s air defense identification zone.
As a response to the situation, Taiwan activated its own aircraft, naval ships, and land-based missile systems to monitor the developments, according to the Ministry of Defense.
These maneuvers occur in the context of economic and military tensions between Beijing, Tokyo, and Taipei. Earlier this week, China banned the import of Taiwanese mangoes, citing food safety concerns. In retaliation, Beijing imposed a total ban on Japanese seafood as a response to Japan’s decision to discharge wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. These actions have further heightened the existing tensions.
China has also been cautioning Taiwan against fostering ties with the United States. China considers Taiwan to be its territory and opposes the island’s diplomatic contacts with foreign countries, as well as the sale of American weapons to Taiwan. Just this week, the US State Department approved a military deal with Taiwan, allowing for the purchase of F-16 equipment and spare parts.
In recent times, China has conducted large-scale military exercises near Taiwan, with the latest being earlier this month. The exercises coincided with the visit of Taiwanese Vice President Lai Ching-te to the United States. Similar military exercises were conducted by China last year following a trip to Taiwan by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The tensions in the region continue to escalate, raising concerns about the potential for further conflict. The situation remains fluid, and all parties involved are closely monitoring the developments.