‘Aggressive’ Beijing scrambles military jets over Taiwan in year’s biggest airspace breach

Taiwan is ‘ready for any aggression’ says Tsai Ing-Wen

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China sending 25 military jets over Taiwan’s defence zone on Monday marked its largest such incursion in the time period. Taiwan’s defence ministry launched its own jets to broadcast warnings back to the Chinese aircraft. It breached the much smaller island nation’s airspace for the 10th day in a row.

Taiwan said the Chinese aircraft, including 18 fighters, entered its southwest air defence identification zone.

They claimed 14 Jian-16 fighter jets, four Jian-10s, four H-6K bombers, two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes and one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft were sent overhead.

In a statement, the defence ministry explained their “air force sent its air patrol force to shadow them, issued radio warnings and deployed missiles to monitor their movements”.

The incursion marks the largest breach of Taiwan’s airspace by China since the island’s defence ministry began publicly reporting People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft.

Local reports claim China sent jets over Taiwan every day this month.

Taipei’s Liberty Times estimated the incursions have taken place on at least 86 days this year.

Taiwanese authorities said that, in 2020, Chinese jets made a record 380 incursions into the country’s air defence zone.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, and has repeatedly threatened to reunite the country with the mainland.

On Friday, 11 Chinese aircraft, including eight fighter jets, entered Taiwan’s air space.

Beijing blamed the US on Thursday for its tensions with Taiwan, saying American warships inflame the risk of conflict.

They also mocked the US and asked whether Chinese ships should sail in the Gulf of Mexico as a “show of strength”.

Last week, Beijing said an aircraft carrier group was exercising close to Taiwan, after a US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait which separates the island from mainland China.

It comes as Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, warned China not to make a “serious mistake” and attack Taiwan.

In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Mr Blinken flagged his concerns over Beijing’s aggression towards Taiwan.

He said: “What we’ve seen, and what is of real concern to us, is increasingly aggressive actions by the government in Beijing directed at Taiwan, raising tensions in the Straits.”

The Secretary of State also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to Taiwan, and added: “We have a serious commitment to peace and security in the western Pacific.

“We stand behind those commitments. And in that context, it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change that status quo by force.“

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also said the US is watching China as it increases military activities near Taiwan.

She told reporters on Friday: “We have…clearly – publicly, privately – expressed our concerns, our growing concerns, about China’s aggression toward Taiwan.

“We’ve seen a concerning increase in PRC military activity in the Taiwan Strait, which we believe is potentially destabilizing.”

US President Joe Biden has also previously called China Washington’s “biggest competitor”.

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