A Chinese aircraft recently approached Taiwan’s Dongyin Island, setting off speculations that Beijing was testing the island nation’s response measures.
Taiwan’s defense authority confirmed that China’s Y-12 light twin-engine aircraft approached Dongyin on February 5. Dongyin is part of the Matsu Islands and less than 50km east of the Chinese mainland's Fujian Province, and about 185km northwest of Keelung on Taiwan island, media reports said. This means it is much closer to the Chinese mainland than to the island of Taiwan.
Chinese mainland experts said on Wednesday that the incident exposed the Taiwan military's “weak” air defense capability, and such a flight could become routine or even expand to include larger areas if Taiwan secessionists continue to provoke.
Shih Shun-wen, a spokesperson at Taiwan's defense authority, said at the press conference that it was possible that the Chinese mainland was "using the civilian aircraft to test Taiwan's response measures."
While Taiwan's defense authority claimed it was prepared and had taken measures to monitor the aircraft, it was local residents who first reported the incident as they filmed the aircraft, and the Taiwan military reacted only after that, exposing Taiwan's weak air defense capability, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Taiwan's defense authority reportedly failed to provide a flight route for the Y-12.
The incident could be caused by a navigational deviation of the Y-12, Fu said, claiming that Dongyin was an “inalienable part of China.” It could also be intentional, since the Y-12 can also carry equipment for surveillance and monitoring, Fu said. "In this case, it is a strong warning to the Taiwan secessionists."