On Friday, Taiwan reported 38 Chinese military jets flying into its air defence zone, marking Beijing’s greatest incursion to date.
The planes, which included nuclear-capable bombers, arrived in two waves, according to the defence ministry. Taiwan’s jets were scrambled and missile systems were deployed in response. Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign state, but China sees democratic Taiwan as a separatist province.
For more than a year, Taiwan has been protesting about Chinese air force sorties near the island. Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang told reporters on Saturday. The Chinese government, which is commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, has yet to make a public statement.
However, it has previously stated that such flights are necessary to safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty and to target “collusion” between Taiwan and the United States.
In a statement, Taiwan’s defence ministry stated 25 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) planes flew near the Pratas Islands atoll during daylight hours in the south-western area of the air defence identification zone (ADIZ).
In the interest of national security, an air defence identification zone is a region outside of a country’s territory and national airspace where foreign aircraft are nonetheless identified, monitored, and controlled. It is self-declared and retains international airspace in theory.
On Friday evening, a second wave of 13 Chinese aircraft arrived in the same region. They flew over the Taiwanese-Philippine waterway. The Chinese aircraft included four H-6 bombers, which can carry nuclear bombs, as well as an anti-submarine aircraft, according to the ministry.
Beijing frequently sends similar missions to express its unhappiness with Taiwanese remarks. The reason for the latest mission is unknown.