Taiwan reports increased military activity by China days before presidential inauguration

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In a significant escalation, 45 Chinese aircraft were detected around Taiwan, marking another violation of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) by Chinese forces. This incident comes less than a week before Taiwan is set to inaugurate its new president. According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, 26 of the aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a critical demarcation line bisecting the 180-kilometer (110-mile) waterway that separates Taiwan from China. Taiwan’s defense ministry stated, “We monitored the situation and responded accordingly.”

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has not renounced the use of force to achieve its objectives. Beijing’s latest military maneuvers are part of a broader strategy to increase pressure on Taiwan, a democratically ruled island nation that very few countries recognize as a sovereign state.

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Details of the Military Activity

On the evening of May 14, 23 Chinese aircraft, including fighter jets and drones, were detected around Taiwan over a two-hour period. This deployment is part of Beijing’s near-daily military presence around Taiwan, which aims to exert continuous pressure on Taipei. The largest incursion occurred last September when China sent 103 warplanes and aircraft near Taiwan, with 40 crossing the median line.

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Experts describe these activities as “grey zone tactics,” which are not outright acts of war but are intended to exhaust Taiwan’s military resources and morale.

Chinese aircraft violate Taiwan's air defense zone ahead of presidential inauguration.

Chinese aircraft violate Taiwan’s air defense zone ahead of presidential inauguration.

Maritime Activities and Regional Stability

In addition to the aerial incursions, China has increased its maritime presence around Taiwan. Since February, Chinese coast guard ships and other official vessels have been operating around Taiwan’s outlying island of Kinmen. On May 13, five Chinese coast guard ships entered Kinmen’s restricted waters for three hours before leaving. Taiwan’s coast guard criticized these actions, stating that they “seriously affect navigation safety and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

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“We urge the Chinese side to exercise self-restraint and immediately cease this irrational behavior,” the Taiwanese coast guard said.

Political Implications

The increased military activity comes as Taiwan prepares to inaugurate its new president. Like outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, the incoming president rejects Beijing’s claims over Taiwan. This ongoing tension highlights the fragile stability in the region and the persistent threat posed by China’s assertive policies.

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