Taiwan urges restraint after China plane enters defence zone

Taipei (AFP) - Taiwan on Tuesday urged Beijing to exercise restraint after a Chinese military aircraft entered its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) following a recent spate of drills that have ratcheted up cross-strait tensions.

The Chinese military plane was spotted in the ADIZ on Sunday, according to the defence ministry.

Chinese military aircraft have flown near the zone on seven other occasions since July.

The ADIZ stretches beyond Taiwan's airspace and is used to give an early warning of possible incursions.

Taiwan has scrambled aircraft to monitor the Chinese planes each time they have flown near the island.

"We keep on high alert to prevent unidentified or Chinese planes and ships from entering our air and sea space. We urge restraint to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait," said ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi.

Relations with Beijing have rapidly deteriorated since the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen last year who refuses to acknowledge both sides are part of "one China".

Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory to be brought back into the fold and has said it would respond with force if the island ever announced a formal breakaway.

Although Taiwan is a self-ruling democracy, it has never declared independence.

Beijing has cut all official communication with Taipei and stepped up pressure on Tsai's government, including staging a string of naval and air drills near Taiwan since last year.

China sent its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Strait in January during a drill and in July when it was en route to Hong Kong.

The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top China policy-making body, also urged restraint on Tuesday and protested Beijing's moves saying they heightened regional tensions.

"China's provocation and intimidation is unhelpful for long-term development in cross-strait relations," said spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng.

In 2014, two Chinese Y-8 aircraft also entered Taiwan's ADIZ on their way to a disputed area in the South China Sea under Tsai's Beijing-friendly predecessor Ma Ying-jeou.

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