Chinese air force incursions into the Taiwan Air Identification Zone have been a daily occurrence for several months. But since the show of force on April 10 with 52 aircraft in flight simultaneously, these missions were until now limited in volume as in ambition. The mission of November 28 was notable in more ways than one. Indeed, not only did she imply 27 devices simultaneously, the highest number of devices since last April, but for the first time, one of the new Y-20U tanker aircraft Chinese air force accompanied the five H-6 bombers and his escort of four J-10C fighters and two heavy fighters J-16 well beyond the usual turning point for Chinese hunters in the south of the island, the flight having continued for 200 nautical miles along the western coast of the island before the aircraft turned back.
By this mission, the Chinese air forces showed that they now had the capacity to act beyond the first circle of islands surrounding the China Sea, and therefore that they were able not only to strike Taiwan under different vectors approach, but also to oppose the support that could come from American aircraft carriers or aircraft based in Japan, and this well upstream of the island itself. In other words, Beijing wanted to show that it now had the theoretical capacity to put in place an air blockade capable of supporting a possible naval blockade to prevent any action by the United States to support Taiwan.
Obviously, this maneuver today is above all symbolic. Indeed, the Chinese air force has so far only a few Y-20U in-flight refueling, an insufficient fleet to support an air blockade. In addition, of the 2000 or so fighter jets lined up by Beijing, only some of the 450 J-10 B / Cs and the probable hundred J-16s currently in service are equipped with refueling poles. Moreover, beyond the capabilities of the aircraft themselves, the pilots themselves should be qualified for this delicate maneuver, especially since this capability was until then relatively confidential within the Chinese air force. However, it not only shows its ambition in the short and medium term, but also the dynamism with which it integrates these new capacities into its operational panoply.
The objective of such a maneuver is also political. Indeed, Beijing still hopes that Taipei will surrender "without a fight", and join the Chinese fold without any military action being necessary. As there is no longer any question, today, of potential seduction as was the case for Hong-Kong, the only alternative for the Chinese authorities, rests on the annihilation of the morale of the Taiwanese themselves, this being intimately linked, according to Beijing, to promises of support from the United States. By suggesting that the PLA can keep the US Air Force and the US Navy at bay, the Chinese authorities therefore hope that the Taiwanese population will lose its will to resist, and will obediently submit to Beijing's authority. The task will however be very difficult for Beijing, sincea recent survey on the island showed that 85% of Taiwanese were in favor of the "Status quo", that is to say of an island in democratic self-management and defeated of continental control.