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Taiwan scrambled its warplanes to warn off the People’s Liberation Army fighter jets which crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday morning, the island’s defence ministry said in a statement.
“The military detected multiple numbers of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets flying southwest into Taiwan briefly this morning,” it said, adding the air force immediately scrambled jets to shadow, intercept and disperse them through radio warnings.
“The military has full surveillance and control of all activities in the sea and air that surround Taiwan, and the public can rest assured of our capability to uphold security for our national territory.”
The attack came just several hours after a US C-40A transport plane made a rare flight into Taiwan over the southwest coast early in the morning.
The plane took off from the US airbase in Okinawa, flying over Taiwan’s Keelung, New Taipei, Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Chiayi, Tainan and into the Taiwan Strait towards the Bashi Channel, according to AirNav, which provides air traffic control information.
Shih Shun-wen, the Taiwanese military spokesman, confirmed that the US plane had flown across Taiwan.
“The military has full control of the activities around Taiwan and the present condition is normal.”
The ministry then said in a separate statement that the plane did not land on Taiwan.
This dismissed some local news media speculations that the US plane was on a special mission.
The fly-bys come at a time when the PLA is stepping up drills aimed at self-ruled Taiwan.
Last Wednesday, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that the PLA 73rd Group Army had conducted live-fire and landing drills, showing amphibious tanks storming beaches in a coordinated attack under rough sea conditions.
On May 14, the PLA started a two-and-a-half-month exercise at Jingtang in the northern province of Hebei, which observers interpreted as a piece of sabre-rattling aimed at Taiwan and the US.
Beijing considers Taiwan as a province which is difficult to control and therefore should be returned to the mainland by force.
It has also warned Washington against supplying arms for Taiwan and is infuriated by the firm support for the island from the administration of US President Donald Trump.
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On Tuesday, the Island announced their annual Han Kuang war games would start on July 13.
“The drills will involve the three forces and will be held in the sea, air and Taiwan proper as well as its offshore islands for five days and four nights between July 13 and July 17,” Major General Lin Wen-Huang said in Taipei.
The annual Wan An air raid drills will take place two days earlier across Taiwan, to test Taiwan’s combat strength and preparedness against missile strikes.
Lin said a live-fire anti-landing drill would be held in Taichung on the west coast of the island on July 16 and would be open to the media.
Last week, A US navy vessel sailed through the Taiwan Strait.
It was linked to the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the US and Taiwanese militaries have said.
The Taiwan defence ministry said on Friday that the warship had transited the strait the previous day in an “ordinary mission”, and that it had closely monitored the ship.
This all comes at a time when mainland China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is stepping up drills aimed at self-ruled Taiwan.
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