Since the escalation of US-Russia over Ukraine, many believed that this would give President Xi Jinping a free pass to aggressively pursue what China calls its core interests.
With two nuclear-powered aircraft carrier attack groups patrolling the Philippine Sea and another heading forward to Yokosuka, Japan, the United States has sent a strong message to China to stay away from Taiwan, while the former is locked with Russia over Ukraine.
The PLA responded to the massive U.S. naval exercises on Sunday by sending as many as 39 warplanes, mostly fighters like the J-10 and J-16, into Taiwan’s Southwest Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) as tensions escalated over the erupted island nation. Taiwan’s air force resumed combat air patrol and activated surface-to-air missile systems to deter the aggressive PLA air force. It is the first time since October 2021 that the PLA has responded to U.S. exercises with so many fighter jets.
This large-scale Taiwan airspace overrun by Chinese fighter jets took place as the U.S. Navy has three aircraft carrier attack groups in support of Taipei and free navigation operations in the Philippines. While USS Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln patrol near Taiwan, USS Ronald Reagan is on standby near Yokosuka in Japan. The United States also has large-scale naval presence with the presence of the USS Essex amphibious clear group and the USS America expeditionary force group joining the aircraft carriers. With the massive carrying capacity, a Japanese Hyuga-class helicopter destroyer patrols USS attack groups deploying as many as 26 F-35 fifth-generation fighters.
The build-up of the US Navy near Taiwan is a clear message to China that it cannot have a free pass to Taipei, while Washington is locked in a confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. “The message to China is that the United States has not taken the eyes off Beijing and wants the PLA to stay away from Taiwan until the Ukraine crisis is resolved,” said a former Indian ambassador to the United States.
Since the escalation of US-Russia over Ukraine, many believed that this would give President Xi Jinping a free pass to aggressively pursue what China calls its core interests. The Biden administration has already this month conveyed to China that it sees the PLA build-up in Ladakh, while India-China stand-off on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) completes the second winter on the Tibetan plateau.