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Asian Countries Put on Shows of Force

In recent days, North Korea and China have gone out of their way to show off their military force in threatening ways. Today, NFK looks at these recent actions and the reasons behind them.

North Korea Tests New, Powerful Missiles

In the last few weeks, North Korea has tested several new, powerful missiles. Some of the missiles were sent into the Sea of Japan, near a part of the ocean belonging to Japan.

An anti-aircraft missile launched by North Korea, September, 2021.
In the last few weeks, North Korea has tested several new, powerful missiles. Some of the missiles were sent into the Sea of Japan, near a part of the ocean belonging to Japan. Above, the September 30 launch of a missile designed to shoot down planes.
(Source: KCNA.)

North Korea’s Weapons Program
     North Korea has fired many test missiles into the sea over the last few years. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un has made threatening comments suggesting that North Korea could attack other countries like Japan or the United States.
     North Korea is also working to develop nuclear weapons. A big concern is that the country might one day put a nuclear device on a missile.
     The US and other countries have used sanctions to try to force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. The sanctions make it very hard for North Korea to buy the things it needs from other countries.

The recent missile tests have revealed more advanced weapons. Two of the missiles were cruise missiles, which can fly low to avoid being detected, and hit targets as far as 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away.

North Korea claims that another missile was an extremely fast “hypersonic” glide missile, able to travel at over five times the speed of sound. The country also tested missiles designed to shoot down planes.

A hypersonic missile launched by North Korea, September, 2021.
The recent missile tests have revealed more advanced weapons. Two of the missiles can hit targets as far as 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away. North Korea claims that one missile was a “hypersonic” glide missile (above), able to travel over five times the speed of sound.
(Source: KCNA.)

The United Nations has said that North Korea isn’t allowed to test some of these weapons. North Korea claims it has the right to test the systems for defense.

The US has offered to hold talks with North Korea, but North Korea has refused, until the US stops it’s “hostile policies“. North Korea wants the sanctions against it dropped.

Over a year ago, North Korea stopped talking with South Korea. Now, North Korea says it may be willing to hold talks with South Korea. South Korea’s leader, Moon Jae-in, would like to bring peace between the two countries before he leaves office next May.

Kim Jong-un speaking to North Korea's Parliament.
Over a year ago, North Korea stopped talking with South Korea. Now, North Korea says it may be willing to hold talks with South Korea. Above, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, speaking to North Korea’s Parliament.
(Source: KCNA.)

Some experts believe North Korea wants to keep building its weapons, but also make it harder for South Korea and its allies, like the US, to get along. North Korea is expected to continue testing missiles.

China Sends Dozens of Warplanes Close to Taiwan

On October 1, China’s National Day, China sent 38 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone – more than ever before. The next day, China sent 39 warplanes. The flights from China continued on Sunday. Each day, Taiwan quickly got its fighter jets into the air to keep an eye on China’s planes.

China and Taiwan
     Taiwan was formed at the end of a long war for control of China. When the Communists won the war in 1949, the group that had been fighting them escaped and set up their own government on the island now called Taiwan.
     But China has always believed that Taiwan belongs to it. China says that sooner or later Taiwan must become part of China again, and has even threatened to use force, if needed.

Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) is an area where Taiwan says it has the right to ask planes who they are and why they are there. The ADIZ is bigger than Taiwan’s actual airspace, which the planes did not enter.

Map showing the flight paths of Chinese warplanes flying in Taiwan's air defense identification zone.
China sent over 80 warplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ this weekend. Taiwan’s ADIZ is an area where Taiwan asks planes who they are and why they are there. The rectangle missing a corner above is Taiwan’s ADIZ. The flight paths of some of China’s warplanes are at the bottom of the ADIZ.
(Source: Taiwan Ministry of National Defense.)

In recent months, China has sent more and more flights into Taiwan’s ADIZ. But this weekend’s flights raised tensions even higher. In addition to fighter jets, there were also planes that can drop bombs. Several of the flights took place at night – showing off China’s ability to attack at night.

Many experts see China’s big buildup in flights as a warning that China is serious about taking control of Taiwan, and that it’s willing to use force, if needed. Some say China’s actions are also a warning to other countries that they shouldn’t support Taiwan.

A ROC Airforce F-16 fighter jet shadows a PLA Airforce Bomber that had approached the island of Taiwan.
This weekend, in addition to fighter jets, there were also planes that can drop bombs. Above, a Taiwan fighter jet watches a Chinese bomber that is coming close to Taiwan. This picture is from February, 2020.
(Source: Military News Agency, ROC [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Taiwan is used to being threatened by China. But the repeated flights are making life harder. Taiwan has far fewer planes than China, and the fuel needed to fly them isn’t cheap.

Taiwan’s pilots are getting worn down by constantly having to check on China’s planes. That may be part of China’s plan. But experts worry that with this kind of face-off happening often, the chances of a battle being started by accident are growing higher.


Did You Know…?
• On Monday, North Korea and South Korea re-connected a direct telephone line between the governments of the two countries.
• Taiwan will celebrate its own National Day on October 10.

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