China has upped its military presence in the skies and seas around neighbouring Taiwan, prompting fearful reactions from several countries, with warnings of an impending invasion. Now new data has shown the extent to which Beijing has broken records for its strongarming tactics.
China is becoming increasingly aggressive with neighbouring Taiwan, a tiny island off the country’s east coast.
Data shows Chinese planes have increasingly breached Taiwan’s airspace over the last six months.
And the global powers that be have taken notice, with several prominent figures voicing fears of an imminent invasion.
A graph compiled by data site Statista shows Chinese air incursions have dramatically increased since the start of 2021.
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The site – which used figures from the ROC Ministry of National Defence, a Chinese agency responsible for defence and military affairs in Taiwan – documented the fewest incursions in January.
That month, Chinese jets passed into Taiwan’s airspace between one and 15 times a day.
Since then, pilots have breached Taiwanese airspace hundreds of times altogether.
The rate increased at several intervals throughout the rest of the year, reaching notable highs between March and June.
At the end of March, the agency reported 20 incursions in one day, and another surge followed in early April with 25.
Rates slowed down a little until June when they jumped again to see 29 incursions in one day halfway through the month.
After flattening for some time, they reached an all-new high this month.
In an announcement, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) demanded Beijing “immediately stop its non-peaceful and irresponsible provocative actions” over its airspace.
MAC spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng said China is causing tensions “between the two sides of the (Taiwan) Strait” and threatening “regional security and order.”
He added Taiwan would “never compromise and yield” to threats from the mainland.
Tsai In-wen, the nation’s president, warned a Chinese invasion would have “catastrophic” consequences for Asian peace and democracy.
Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine yesterday, she said it would signal that authoritarianism has the “upper hand” over democratic systems.
Other international authorities have also spoken up, amongst them China’s central rival, the US.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan recently told the BBC his government is “deeply concerned” about peace in the Taiwan Strait.
He pledged to “stand up and speak out” in private and in public when China undertakes actions that are “fundamentally destabilising.”
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also raised concerns.
Speaking at an address to a regional forum in Taipei today, he warned China could lash out at its neighbour “disastrously” and “very soon.”
His words echoed those of Taiwan’s premier, stating it could see an escalation into war which would divide the world into “democracies vs dictators.”
He questioned how other foreign powers would react, asking whether they would be willing to reckon with China.
Taiwan considers itself a sovereign nation that resides off the Chinese coast, but China views it differently.
Chinese authorities hold that Taiwan is a breakaway province, and Beijing claims it has rightful power over the island.
Although it is not fully independent, island residents have enjoyed a democratic system since 2000 while their mainland counterparts live under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Taiwan’s current president has attempted to gather momentum towards independence since his election in 2016.