A large number of warships of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy reportedly sailed to waters east of the island of Taiwan and south of Japan as dozens of PLA warplanes carried out drills on Tuesday and Wednesday, with analysts saying on Thursday that the joint maritime and aerial exercise could greatly enhance combat readiness against “Taiwan independence” and foreign interference forces.
A PLA Navy flotilla including the Type 052C destroyer Xi’an and the Type 056A corvette Xiaogan sailed through waters between the island of Taiwan and Japan’s Yonaguni Island from north to south and entered the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said in a press release on Wednesday. The course the two PLA vessels took was close to the island of Taiwan’s eastern coastal regions including Keelung, Yilan and Hualien, according to the Japanese press release.
Three PLA warships – the Type 052D destroyer Taiyuan and the Type 054A frigates Anyang and Zhoushan – on Tuesday sailed from the East China Sea into the Pacific Ocean through the Miyako Strait in a separate flotilla. Following them was the Type 052D Zibo, which made a transit through the Miyako Strait on Wednesday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said in another press release on Wednesday.
Another PLA Navy flotilla, consisting of the Type 055 large destroyer Lhasa, the Type 052D destroyer Chengdu and the Type 903A replenishment ship Dongpinghu, sailed in waters south of Japan on Tuesday, said Japan’s Ministry of Defense Joint Staff on the day.
The PLA warship activities coincided with large-scale PLA warplane drills around the island of Taiwan. A total of 29 PLA warplanes including fighter jets, bombers, aerial refueling aircraft and early warning aircraft, entered Taiwan’s self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on Tuesday, followed by six more on Wednesday, according to Taiwan’s defense authority.
It means that the PLA likely held a joint maritime and aerial exercise that rehearsed surrounding the island of Taiwan and blocking military interference from the US and Japan, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.
Taiwan’s defense authority does not release data on PLA warship activities around it, so it is possible that there were also PLA vessels on the west side of the island, the expert said.
The drills could greatly enhance the PLA’s combat readiness against “Taiwan independence” and foreign interference forces in addition to sending a stern warning to them amid their repeated provocations, the expert said.