PLA holds large-scale exercise

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BEIJING: After a total of 39 aircraft of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were spotted near Taiwan in what seems to be the largest exercise in the region since this year, the PLA reportedly continued the drills on Monday by sending 13 aircraft to the region.

The exercises are a response to US and Japan’s recent “power demonstration” after the two held a joint drill involving five flat tops in the Philippine Sea, east to the island of Taiwan, Chinese mainland analysts said on Monday, noting that the increased number of warplanes is an obvious countermeasure to deter the foreign interference forces, who again attempted to lend support to Taiwan secessionists.

Taiwan’s defense authority said late on Sunday night that 39 PLA aircraft, namely two Y-9 electronic warfare aircraft, 10 J-10 fighter jets, 24 J-16 fight jets, two Y-8 electronic intelligence aircraft and an H-6 bomber, entered Taiwan’s self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on the day.

This is the largest number of PLA warplanes observed by the defense authority on the island since the start of 2022. The all-time record, 56, was set on October 4, 2021.

The PLA continued the drills on Monday by sending 13 aircraft to the region, Taiwan’s defense authority said on Monday.

Media on the island of Taiwan said that the large-scale PLA drills came after the US and Japan held a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea south to Okinawa, which is to the east of the island of Taiwan, from January 17 to Saturday.

Five flat tops from the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, namely the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carriers, the USS America and the USS Essex amphibious assault ships, as well as the JS Hyuga helicopter destroyer, conducted a “power demonstration” with the drill, media reports said.

The increased PLA warplane activity is an obvious countermeasure to the joint drills by the US and Japanese forces, as the latter flexes its military muscle and attempts to lend support to Taiwan secessionists -keeping the situation in the Taiwan Straits under tension – Shi Hong, executive chief editor of the Chinese mainland magazine Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times on Monday.

The PLA displayed the firm will and capability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity with the aerial drill, Shi said, noting that the warplanes involved like the J-16 are very powerful and agile, boosting outstanding capabilities in air combat, land attack and anti-ship missions.

In another related development, Taiwan secessionists are continuing their attempts to resist reunification by force, as their first “domestically built” submarine prototype is reportedly ahead of schedule and could be launched in September 2023. Tsai Ing-wen has decided to add a special fund to build seven more submarines of this class, Taiwan media reported on Monday.

No matter what weapons Taiwan secessionists develop or procure, they cannot change the huge military power gap between the island’s armed forces and the PLA, as the latter has overwhelming advantages, observers said.

Nevertheless, the PLA will not underestimate any potential threat, and that is why the PLA’s routine drills are not only conducted to deter secessionists and foreign interference forces, but also to practically enhance combat readiness, experts said. -The Daily Mail-Global Times News Exchange Item