Beijing, China – In a display of military prowess, China’s uncrewed combat aircraft recently completed a flight around Taiwan, according to the island’s defense ministry.
This maneuver showcases China’s ability to target Taiwan’s east coast bases, while coinciding with the transit of a U.S. maritime patrol aircraft through the Taiwan Strait.
China has been increasing military pressure on Taiwan in the past three years, aiming to compel Taipei to acknowledge its sovereignty claim over the democratically governed island.
This heightened tension escalated further this month when China conducted war games near Taiwan following a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.
The Taiwan defense ministry’s update on Chinese military activities within the previous 24 hours revealed that 38 military aircraft had entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
Among them was the TB-001 drone, dubbed the “twin-tailed scorpion,” which flew around Taiwan.
The drone’s flight path took it across the Bashi Channel, separating Taiwan from the Philippines, and continued up the east coast of Taiwan before returning towards the Chinese coast.
Chieh Chung, a military researcher at Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation think tank, explained that during a wartime scenario, China is likely to deploy the TB-001 drone to identify targets along Taiwan’s east coast, where the country houses its reserve forces.
This region is not directly facing China, thus making it a strategic area for potential attacks by the Chinese military’s naval and air forces in the Western Pacific, including air force strike groups and carrier battle groups.
While this is not the first time a Chinese drone has flown around Taiwan, it is the first time it has done so entirely within Taiwan’s air defense zone, as per Chieh Chung.
Chinese state media has given the TB-001 the moniker “twin-tailed scorpion” and has released images of the drone equipped with missiles, emphasizing its high-altitude and long-range capabilities.
China’s air force has previously carried out “island encirclement” missions using the crewed, nuclear-capable H-6 bomber.
These activities, along with the recent display of military strength near Taiwan, have raised concerns among Washington and its allies.
They have consistently expressed apprehension about China’s behavior and called for the status quo to remain unchanged, without any forced alteration.
On the same day, a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft traversed the Taiwan Strait. Furthermore, a senior French lawmaker confirmed that a warship from France had recently passed through this sensitive waterway.
The United States and its allies have routinely conducted naval and aerial operations in the Taiwan Strait in recent years.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet clarified that the Poseidon aircraft flew within international airspace during its transit. In a statement, the fleet declared, “By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations.
The aircraft’s transit of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
In response, China’s military claimed to have monitored the aircraft and accused the United States of engaging in provocative behavior within the strait.
It is worth noting that China declared last year that it has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait, vehemently opposing the notion of it being international waters.
Both the United States and Taiwan disagree with China’s stance on the matter.
During a meeting with President Tsai in Taipei, French Senate Vice President Alain Richard, a former defense minister, emphasized his country’s commitment to security by mentioning the recent passage of a French warship through the Taiwan Strait