Satellite images show China blowing up mock a Japan warplane. There is growing concern that a potential Chinese annexation of Taiwan would seriously jeopardize Japan’s security and spark a larger confrontation.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is aware that an invasion of Taiwan would probably lead to confrontation with Japan because Yonaguni, Japan’s westernmost inhabited island, is barely 110 kilometers (68 miles) away.
Japanese authorities have established a connection between Taiwan’s security and their own, allowing Japan to participate in Taiwan’s defense. As a response, the PLA fired a missile or missiles at a simulated Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) aircraft in Xinjiang, a desert region in northwest China, according to a report from Planet Labs, which was cited by Nikkei.
In reference to what seemed to be a mock Boeing E-767 AWACS used by SDF, Jeffrey Lewis, professor at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and expert in the military analysis of satellite photos, said, “I think we can safely conclude this was a test of a ballistic missile of some sort.”
The photographs were also examined by Tom Shugart, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, who came to the conclusion that a missile may have been used:
What the PLA utilized to specifically target the dummy AWACS or nearby aircraft is unknown. Because there are no impact craters, according to Kiyofumi Iwata, a former chief of staff of the Japan Ground SDF, the “AWACS object may have been set ablaze, rather than hit by a missile.”
In the same desert region last year, PLA forces also constructed two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers and a dummy U.S. Navy aircraft carrier for use in weapons training. According to Nikkei, “aircraft carrier was found to have marks that experts said were made by missile impacts.”
It appears China is aware that Japan and the United States might become involved in the conflict if an invasion of Taiwan is planned. Due to this, China and Russia banded together and held a combined military exercise last month between Taiwan and the island of Yonaguni.