Taiwan validates highway airstrips amid growing tensions with China

With its latest annual drill, the utility of all five of the Republic of China Air Force’s highway airstrips have been validated, as Roy Choo and Peter Ho report.

Taiwan has always been a potential flashpoint since the Republic of China (ROC) government was re-established there more than 70 years ago. However, in recent years, tensions with the mainland (People’s Republic of China, PRC) have been the highest since the strait crisis of 1995-1996, in which the PRC conducted a series of missile tests in the waters around Taiwan.

As a clear indication that it could resolve cross-strait sovereignty disputes through the use of its new-found military muscle, China has continued with the intimidation of Taiwan using what are termed as ‘grey-zone’ tactics. ‘Island encirclement’ drills – flown by People’s Liberation Army-operated (PLA) H-6 bombers and escort aircraft – have circumnavigated Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) on various occasions since 2016.

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