Taiwan air force techs scramble behind a US-made F-16V fighter jet at a military base in Chiayi, southern Taiwan. Photo: AFP

China’s relentless bullying of Taiwan continues, as it reportedly sent warplanes to the Taiwan Strait again on Sunday, marking the fourth consecutive day since the start of the eight-day National Day and Mid-Autumn holiday period on Thursday, the Global Times reported.

A People’s Liberation Army warplane, presumably a Y-8 anti-submarine-warfare aircraft, entered Taiwan’s southwestern “air defense identification zone” on Sunday morning, the Taipei-based newspaper Liberty Times reported.

While some observers told the Global Times that PLA combat-readiness patrols are wearing out the military in Taiwan, in fact, they may be doing the exact opposite.

The actions could in fact bolster the determination of “Fortress Taiwan,” which is boosting its military spending to counter the threat. It could also strengthen US resolve to punish China economically and militarily, in a dangerous game of chess between the two superpowers.

The Chinese forays are likely a reflection of President Xi Jinping’s aggressive “Wolf Warrior” stance, which has seen China’s goodwill squandered around the world.

According to the Twitter account of Taiwan’s defense authority, it was able to identify two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft in its southwestern air defense identification zone on Thursday and Saturday, Global Times reported.

The frequent PLA warplane sorties demonstrate the Chinese military’s capability and determination in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times.

The same expert, who declined to be identified, claimed that the sorties were wearing down the resolve of the island nation.

Resolve is one thing, cost quite another.

According to a recent Reuters report, Taiwan has spent almost US$900 million this year on scrambling its air force against Chinese incursions. The island’s defence minister also admitted, that pressure they are facing is “great.”

In response to China’s aggression, the US has sent B-1 and B-52 bombers into the region, along with imposing US Navy carrier groups. So far, China has wisely backed down from the superior US naval forces.

The US military is also redefining its entire Pacific war stance, in relation to China’s growing military strength and its “illegal” actions in the South China Sea.

Speaking at parliament, Taiwan Defence Minister Yen De-fa said the air force had scrambled 2,972 times against Chinese aircraft this year at a cost of T$25.5 billion (US$886.49 million), Reuters reported.

“Recently the pressure has been great. To say otherwise would be deceiving people,” Yen said, without giving a comparison figure for last year.

In the past few weeks, Chinese fighter jets have crossed the mid line of the Taiwan Strait, which normally serves as an unofficial buffer zone, and flown multiple missions into Taiwan’s southwestern air defence identification zone, Reuters reported.

Taiwan recently secured a whopping US$62 billion contract with Lockheed Martin to procure 66 new F-16 “Viper” jets, which when delivered by 2026 will take the island nation’s fleet to more than 200 aircraft – a fact that has vexed Beijing and possibly prompted the holiday warplane sorties.

The island nation also recently displayed its new Wan Chien (Ten Thousand Swords) air-to-ground cruise missiles at an offshore military base, along with its Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) and other weaponry, to the media, Taiwan News reported.

During President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Magong Air Force base in Taiwan’s island county of Penghu, the military offered a rare glimpse of the locally developed Wan Chien missiles, which only entered service in 2018.

Developed by the National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), the weapons are carried exclusively by the IDF jets and can be fired at targets about 200 kilometers away.

The GPS-guided missiles are said to have the ability to strike Chinese air bases, military barracks, and fortifications in Fujian and Guangdong provinces once they are fired from near the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

According to Reuters, US President Donald Trump’s administration, which is ramping up the pressure on China, plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems, including mines, cruise missiles and drones, to Taiwan.

Washington has been eager to create a military counterbalance to Chinese forces, building on an effort known within the Pentagon as “Fortress Taiwan.”