Chinese Fighter Jets Fly Over Taiwan After US Submarine Deal

Beijing outraged over US defense agreement with Australia and UK

Chinese fighter jets in 2016 (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
September 17, 2021

China dispatched 10 military planes to Taiwanese airspace one day after the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom declared a groundbreaking agreement to counter Beijing's influence by building nuclear submarines.

Taiwanese officials announced Friday that eight fighter jets, one anti-submarine plane, and one spy plane entered the country's airspace from China. The Chinese planes turned back after the island country scrambled its own jets and activated its missile defenses.

China's incursion on democratic Taiwan comes as state propaganda against the island becomes increasingly belligerent. One propaganda outlet threatened "military measures" if the United States moves to recognize Taiwan as an independent country.

In response to China's growing aggression in the Pacific, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia on Thursday inked a defense agreement for the construction of eight nuclear-powered submarines, the first agreement of its kind since 1958. China called the agreement "severely damaging."

Taiwan has also ramped up defense production in its own right. The capital city of Taipei on Thursday unveiled a budget proposal that will increase defense spending by $8.7 billion over the next five years, which is intended to shore up Taiwan's ability to fend off a Chinese attack.

"In the face of severe threats from enemies, our military urgently needs to obtain mature weapons capable of being produced on a large scale," Taiwan defense official Gen. Chen Huang-rong said Thursday.

Former Trump security advisers Robert C. O'Brien and Alexander B. Gray wrote the same day that time to fortify Taiwan against Chinese attacks is limited.

"Washington and Taipei have a relatively brief interval to change Beijing's calculus," O'Brien and Gray wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. "As the narrative of American decline becomes increasingly popular and politically expedient, it becomes more likely that China could use force to change the status quo in Taiwan. There is bipartisan support in Congress for strengthening Taiwan's defenses. … By acting swiftly, the U.S. and Taiwan can dissuade [Chinese president Xi Jinping] from making what could be the most disastrous geopolitical calculation since 1939."