China’s plans to commission its most advanced aircraft carrier, the Fujian, by 2025, has led to concerns in Taiwan about a military escalation.
According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, the carrier is equipped with a catapult system, allowing for slicker takeoffs compared to China’s older carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong.
Under President Xi Jinping, China’s aggressive posturing towards Taiwan has escalated. China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has made reunification a number one priority.
The aircraft carrier’s launch is regarded as a major step in China’s military overhaul, aimed at building a “fully modern” force capable of rivalling the US military by 2027.
Taiwan has warned its allies this development should be regarded as a new “major threat” by China.
Recent incursions by China’s warships and planes followed the presence of the Shandong, China’s second aircraft carrier, 60 nautical miles southeast of Taiwan, heading into the Western Pacific.
Increased military activity near Taiwan is regarded as a form of military harassment by Beijing, which has not ruled out the use of force to reunite Taiwan with the mainland.
In response to China’s actions, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it will closely monitor Chinese movements and strengthen its defences. Major General Huang Wen-chi, assistant deputy chief of Taiwan’s General Staff for Intelligence, spoke of the expansion of Chinese military bases along the coastline facing Taiwan.
Three airfields in Fujian province have been expanded, with the closest, Longtian, located 135 miles from Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
US and Canadian warships have also challenged China’s presence in the area.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry reported that 13 of the Chinese military aircraft had crossed the unofficial demarcation line, the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
Major General Huang said between July and September there was a spike in the Chinese Communist Party’s exercises.