The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently ramped up warship activities around the island of Taiwan, breaking the record for the number of vessels deployed in its drills in the region.

Analysts said Sunday that the recent intensive exercises demonstrate the PLA’s capabilities in encircling the island, and likely featured amphibious landing training.

The defense authority on the island of Taiwan said in a press release on Saturday that it detected 15 PLA aircraft and 16 PLA vessels operating around the island of Taiwan on Friday.

It is worth noting that the 16 marked the highest number of PLA vessel activities in recent times, media on the island reported on Saturday.

The record number came after the PLA increased the scale of its daily exercises and patrols around the island of Taiwan over the past week, sending nine vessels on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all accompanied by large-scale activities of fighters, bombers, special mission aircraft and drones in the air, media on the island said.

By comparison, the daily average number of PLA vessels operating around the island is about four. Even during the PLA’s large-scale military exercises in August last year and in April this year, this figure did not surpass 14, according to press releases from the island’s defense authority.

Coming amid recent events including the US House’s passing of the National Defense Authorization Act 2024, the release of the NATO summit communiqué and joint exercises by the US, the UK, Australia and Japan, the PLA’s increase in warship activities around the island is likely aimed at displaying its capabilities in blockading the island, and possibly featured forces from not only the Eastern Theater Command, but also the Southern Theater Command, media on the island reported, citing a military expert on the island.

The defense authority on the island did not publish the types of PLA vessels participating in the activities, but Japan’s Defense Ministry said in late June that it spotted a PLA flotilla featuring the Type 075 amphibious assault ship Guangxi, the Type 052D destroyer Baotou, the Type 054A frigate Anyang and the Type 903A comprehensive replenishment ship Chaohu when the warships sailed from the East China Sea to the West Pacific at the time.

With no reports indicating that the warships have come back, the amphibious group led by the Type 075 could participate in exercise in waters to the east of the island of Taiwan, Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military expert, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In a landing mission, it is logical to start amphibious landing after establishing air superiority and control of the sea, so it makes sense to practice amphibious landings following the training of precision strikes, air combat and sea combat, said another Chinese mainland expert who requested anonymity.