According to a military expert, the recent increase in Chinese fighter jet flights off the coast of Taiwan can be seen as a show of force by Beijing. The People’s Republic probably wanted to express its displeasure with the USA’s political influence in the Indo-Pacific, said Su Tzu-yun, researcher at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research, to the German Press Agency.

In the morning (local time), the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense announced that 36 Chinese military aircraft and 6 naval ships had been discovered off the coast of the island republic within 24 hours – a record this year.

Beijing may have viewed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila as a provocation, Su said, as did recent trips to the U.S. by Taiwan’s Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim that were described as private visits and to Europe.

The US has promised defense assistance to the Philippines and Taiwan. Due to the political conflict lines in the Indo-Pacific, this aid promise is seen particularly as a signal to China, whose striving for power is viewed with concern by many countries in the region.

Expert: China wants to show itself as a maritime power

The ruling Communist Party in Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province that it wants to unite with the mainland – using military means if necessary. China usually punishes diplomatic exchanges between other states and Taiwan with political counterattacks. The island with more than 23 million inhabitants has been governed independently and democratically for decades. The candidate of the Progressive Party, which won the presidential election in January – and is viewed as separatist by Beijing -, Lai Ching-te, is due to be inaugurated on May 20.

Since then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022, China has regularly flown fighter jets over the unofficial median line in the strait between the two states, which is around 130 kilometers wide at its narrowest point. Today, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense again had its own armed forces respond with patrol flights and ship operations.

In the East China Sea, where China, Japan and Taiwan claim the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku Islands), Beijing allowed a Chinese coast guard ship to cross on Wednesday. China has long been arguing with the Philippines over areas in the South China Sea, which has repeatedly led to open tensions there. Military expert Su sees these demonstrations of force as part of China’s long-term strategy, which obviously wants to develop from a land power to a sea power.