Photo/IllutrationA Taiwanese fighter, in the background, keeps watch on a Chinese bomber on July 20. (Provided by the National Defense Ministry of Taiwan)

  • Photo/Illustraion

TAIPEI--China has increased its military aircraft training runs around Taiwan and indicated that such flights are the new normal.

Each day from Aug. 12 to 14, Chinese air force aircraft flew in routes that circled Taiwan.

The number of such flights has reached eight since the start of July, and the training includes bombers and electronic-warfare aircraft.

A deterioration in China-Taiwan relations has been cited for the increase in the training missions, but one expert said Beijing has other motives.

“China is not only applying pressure on Taiwan but is also checking the reaction of the Taiwanese air force’s aircraft and radar,” said Alexander Huang, assistant professor of security at Tamkang University in Taiwan. “(The training flights) are also intended to continuously show (China’s) power to the United States and Japan.”

Taiwan has scrambled fighters as a countermeasure to the Chinese actions.

According to Taiwan’s National Defense Ministry and the Japanese Defense Ministry, a Chinese Y-8 electronic-warfare airplane went on a training run on the morning of Aug. 14.

It first flew west to east over the Bashi Channel, located south of Taiwan, then moved north over sea areas east of the island. It then returned to China through the Miyako Strait, located between Japan’s Miyakojima island and the Okinawa main island.

A same-type aircraft made a similar flight on Aug. 13. The previous day, an H-6 bomber joined a Y-8 on the same route.

Chinese training flights that circled Taiwan have been confirmed since Tsai Ing-wen became president of Taiwan in May 2016. The flights have increased in frequency since July this year.

The Taiwanese air force or the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force has scrambled aircraft for each of the Chinese training flights.

In some cases, Chinese aircraft have flown along the median line on the west side in the Taiwan Strait between mainland China and Taiwan.

The first Chinese military aircraft flight around Taiwan in July occurred on the 13th of the month. The following day, an official of the National Defense Ministry of China issued a statement about the training flights.

“You should not make a fuss over them or look into them too much,” the statement said. “You should get accustomed to them.”

Later, the Chinese air force posted on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, photos of its aircraft apparently in airspace around Taiwan.

The photos were accompanied by the message: “It’s becoming normal, normal and normal.”