Taiwan scrambles jets to warn off 29 Chinese planes in its air defence zone

·2-min read
Taiwan scrambles jets to warn off 29 Chinese planes in its air defence zone

Taiwan on Tuesday scrambled combat aircraft to warn away a fleet of 29 Chinese jets, including bombers, that entered its air defence zone in the largest incursion since late May.

The Chinese mission included 17 fighters and six H-6 bombers as well as electronic warfare, early warning, antisubmarine and aerial refuelling aircraft, Taiwan’s defence ministry said.

While the bombers flew south of the island and into the Pacific ocean, some jets flew northeast of the Pratas, according to officials.

Besides scramblig aircraft to warn away the Chinese jets, Taiwan also deployed missile systems to monitor the developments and issued radio warnings.

Beijing maintains that Taiwan is a part of its national territory, even though the island has been self-ruled since it split from the mainland in 1949 following a civil war. This year, China has beefed up its military activities around Taiwan, including flying a record number of warplanes into the island’s airspace.

Tuesday’s mission was China’s third-largest incursion since the beginning of the year. Before this, Taiwan had reported 30 Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone on 20 May. The largest incursion of the year took place on 23 January, which involved 39 aircraft.

Taiwan has called China’s repeated nearby military activities “grey zone” warfare, which is aimed at wearing out Taiwanese forces by making them repeatedly scramble.

Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu said the large-scale exercise by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has shown that the island nation is facing a threat “more serious than ever”.

“But there’s no way Taiwan will cave in and surrender its sovereignty and democracy to the big bully. Not a chance,” he said on Twitter.

Last Friday, Chinalaunched its first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier, a significant step towards modernising its military and rivalling the US at sea. Named Fujian – after the southeastern coastal province located opposite Taiwan – it is Beijing’s third and most advanced aircraft carrier yet, featuring a full-length flight deck with an electromagnetic catapult-assisted launch system.

A US state department spokesperson told Reuters that Beijing should “cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and intimidation against Taiwan”.

China’s PLA last month conducted an exercise around Taiwan as a “solemn warning” against its “collusion” with the United States. That move came after US president Joe Biden signalled a change in a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan by saying the country would get involved militarily if China attacked Taiwan.

During the first virtual summit between Mr Biden and China’s Xi Jinping, the leaders locked horns over Taiwan. Mr Biden told his counterpart that the US was strongly opposed to “unilateral efforts to change the status quo” or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

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