The Associated Press
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is continuously bolstering its military bases along the coastline facing Taiwan, the island’s Defense Ministry reported in mid-September 2023, as Beijing steps up military activities around the self-governed territory it threatens to annex by force.
Taiwan said it will continue monitoring the CCP’s activities around the island and strengthen its defenses in response. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it spotted 22 Chinese warplanes and 20 warships near the island in the 24 hours before the report was released — part of military harassment by Beijing.
“This year, the Chinese Communist Party has aggressively expanded its armaments and continued to build various types of fighter jets and drones,” Maj. Gen. Huang Wen-Chi, the assistant deputy chief with the General Staff for Intelligence of Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, said during a news conference releasing the biennial report.
“The information we have received is that all important military bases along the coast … are being continuously updated,” he added.
Huang said three military airfields in China’s southeastern Fujian province — Longtian, Huian and Zhangzhou — recently were expanded. The nearest to Taiwan, Longtian, is 217 kilometers from the island’s capital, Taipei.
Over the past year, Beijing has stepped up military activities around Taiwan, including deploying warships and warplanes on a near-daily basis.
The latest dispatch of CCP warplanes and warships came after Canada and the United States sailed naval vessels through the international waters of the Taiwan Strait to uphold freedom of navigation and ensure critical sea lines of communication (SLOCs) remain open for commerce in the major global trade route.
A day before Taiwan released its report, a Chinese naval formation led by the aircraft carrier Shandong sailed about 110 kilometers southeast of the island. The warship was expected to conduct drills simulating aircraft, submarine, surface vessel and land attacks, according to Chinese state-run media.
The carrier also conducted drills around Taiwan in April 2023, shortly after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California. Beijing considers exchanges between Taiwan and foreign officials as challenges to its claims over the island, which has never been part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Thirteen of the 22 CCP aircraft reported September 12 crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial demarcation between the PRC and Taiwan, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.
“The period from July to September this year was the peak period for the Chinese Communist Party’s exercises,” Huang said, noting an increase in Beijing’s naval activities in the waters surrounding the strait, and a large number of warships operating in the South China and East China seas.