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According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, China launched 39 airplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday, the largest such intrusion this year.
The People’s Liberation Army flights came a day after the US and Japanese navies put on a massive show of force in the Philippine Sea, assembling a flotilla that included two US Navy aircraft carriers, 2 US amphibious assault ships, and a Japanese helicopter destroyer, which is essentially a small aircraft carrier.
The drill also included two US guided-missile cruisers and five destroyers. The Philippine Sea is the area of the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan that is between the self-governing island and the US territory of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Navy did not specify the distance between the flotilla and Taiwan.
“Freedom at its finest! Nothing underlines our commitment to a #FreeandOpenIndoPacific more than two Carrier Strike Groups and two Amphibious Ready Groups sailing with our close allies from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.” Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander of the US 7th Fleet based in Japan, stated in a tweet.
According to a US Navy statement, the fleet was “doing exercises to preserve and safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific area.”
According to the US, the Senkakus are covered by the US-Japan mutual defense pact, which requires Washington to protect them just like any other portion of Japanese territory.
While the huge naval exercise sends a statement, Schuster believes its position keeps it from being unduly provocative.
The Philippine Sea is located outside of the first island chain, the seas of which are mostly claimed by China. According to Schuster, keeping the US-Japan naval drills outside the chain demonstrated that there was no threat to the Chinese mainland.