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China Fighters and Bombers Return to Skies Around Taiwan

Chinese warplanes, including 18 fighter jets and two nuclear-capable bombers, violated Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Thursday, according to the island's Defense Ministry, just hours after officials in Taipei confirmed that they had submitted an application to join a highly sought-after free trade zone.

In addition to the latest incursions by People's Liberation Army aircraft, the total number of warplane sorties this year has reached 502, according to publicly available data released by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense.. According to the country's defense officials, there will be approximately 380 ADIZ violations in 2020.

ADIZs are self-declared airspace delimitations that extend beyond a country's borders and into international airspace to protect civilians. It is used to request advanced identification of foreign civil and military aircraft. The zones have also been declared by neighboring countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea, but the practice is not regulated by international law.

In two separate reports, the Ministry of National Defense said that combat air patrols were dispatched, radio warnings were issued, and air defense missile systems were deployed in the Bashi Channel, which is at the mouth of the South China Sea, on Thursday morning and afternoon local time, according to the ministry.

China considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory and has vowed to "unify" the island, if necessary through military force. Military officials in the United States have warned that a Chinese invasion of the democratic island could take place this decade, or that it is at the very least much closer than most people believe.

Nonetheless, analysts in Taipei claim that Beijing frequently employs its military to send political signals, deploying warplanes and warships to express the Chinese leadership's opposition to diplomatic developments relating to Taiwan, according to the analysts. Military coercion appears to be a pattern whenever Taiwanese officials attempt to rally international support, and when allies such as the United States publicly support Taipei's efforts to do so.

Officials in Taipei held a press conference on Wednesday to confirm that Taiwan had requested formal accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), just days after Beijing submitted its own CPTPP application. As Chinese military aircraft buzzed the island's air defenses, officials in Taipei confirmed that Taiwan had requested formal accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership on Wednesday.

In addition to being economically beneficial, the trade agreement may also have strategic implications for both Taiwan and China. For the former, it represents an opportunity to further reduce its reliance on the Chinese mainland market for trade. The latter, on the other hand, may see an opportunity to suffocate such an effort while simultaneously increasing its own economic power.

Earlier this week, John Deng, Taiwan's chief trade negotiator, told reporters that the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen had been working on the country's CPTPP accession for a number of years. He claims that her government has already taken the steps necessary to ensure that the necessary legal and regulatory frameworks are in place.

Japan, which is serving as the rotating chair of the CPTPP this year, has expressed support for Taiwan, which already has free-trade agreements with CPTPP member countries Singapore and New Zealand.

As a result of China's opposition to Taiwan's participation in the World Cup on Thursday, Taipei faces an uphill battle.

Upon being questioned about the timing of Taiwan's application, Deng assured reporters that it had nothing to do with Beijing's submission the previous week. He predicted that China "will have had its own considerations."

Deng acknowledged the possibility of diplomatic difficulties during the application process and added: "China has consistently obstructed Taiwan's international space, as can be seen by anyone who looks. If China becomes the first member, Taiwan's application will, without a doubt, be subject to significant risks. This is a fairly self-evident truth."

Deng also emphasized Taiwan's relative readiness to participate in the trade agreement. We believe that CPTPP is related to each country's system, level of openness, and willingness to abide by the terms of the agreements," says the author.

He described Taiwan and China as "two completely different systems." "We are a fully functioning market economy, whereas China is... I believe we are all aware of the situation."

Deng stated that Taiwan's application is to be recognized as the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu—the same designation that the country uses at the World Trade Organization and in its other trade agreements with other countries.

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