Military aware of PLA operations near Taiwan

In this photo taken and released Friday, May 25, 2018, by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense, a Taiwanese Air Force fighter aircraft, left, flies near a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) bomber that reportedly flew over the Luzon Strait south of Taiwan. Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said this week that the island will step up security to respond to military threats from China. The watermark says "Military News Agency". (Ministry of National Defense via AP)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said on Dec. 18 it was aware that a number of Chinese aircraft and military vessels were operating near Taiwan during the day and that it was closely monitoring their movements.

Without naming exactly how many, a MND statement said a certain number of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft, including Xian H-6 (轟-6) bombers, Shaanxi Y-8 (運-8) transport aircraft, and Sukhoi-30 fighter jets, departed from PLA’s Huiyang air base in Guangdong Province earlier that day.

The aircraft flew over the Bashi Channel, the waterway south of Taiwan, on their way to the West Pacific Ocean for routine distant-sea exercises.

They were watched closely by Taiwanese jets until the aircraft returned to their base, the MND said.

Two PLA combat ships were also been detected traveling outside Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (AIDZ) in the West Pacific off Taiwan’s southeastern coast, the MND said.

The two vessels were thought to be taking part in the same routine distant-sea exercises as the Chinese aircraft, according to the ministry.

The military continues to closely monitor the country’s surrounding waters and airspace to ensure Taiwan’s security, the MND said.

By Joseph Yeh