At a time when tensions across the Taiwan Strait are at an all-time high, Taiwan’s air force scrambled on Sunday to warn off eight Chinese aircraft, including fighter jets, that had entered its air defense zone, according to the country’s defense ministry.
For a year or more, Taiwan has complained about Chinese air force sorties near the self-ruled island, often in the southern area of its air defense zone near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
The Chinese aircraft included six J-16 fighters, one anti-submarine aircraft, and one surveillance aircraft, according to a statement released late Sunday by the military ministry.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own and has not ruled out capturing by force, contends that Chinese military exercises near the island imperil regional stability and vows to preserve its freedom and democracy on several occasions.
According to the person, Blinken made it plain during an hour-long conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 conference in Rome that Washington opposes any unilateral alterations to the status quo by Beijing.
According to China’s foreign ministry, Wang told Blinken that tensions over Taiwan were created by US assistance for pro-independence elements on the island.
Increased Chinese military exercises near Taiwan’s air defense identification zone are part of what Taipei sees as Beijing’s increased military harassment.
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, claims the island is a sovereign nation and has made rebuilding the island’s armed forces, which are well-equipped but dwarfed by China’s, a primary priority.
Taiwan recorded 148 Chinese air force planes in the zone’s southern and southwestern theaters over a four-day period earlier this month, signaling a major increase of tensions between Taipei and Beijing.
Chinese planes have been flying over Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, which is a larger area Taiwan monitors and patrols to give it more time to respond to any threats.