Taiwan says Chinese jets carried out ‘combat readiness’ patrols
Nine Chinese fighter jets and one military drone crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait in a 24-hour period.
Ten Chinese aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, normally an unofficial barrier between the two sides, Taiwan’s defence ministry said, as Beijing continues its military activities near the island.
Nine Chinese fighter jets and one military drone crossed the median line in the 24 hours to 6am local time on Saturday (20:00 GMT on Friday), the ministry said in a daily report on Chinese military activities.
Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn away the Chinese aircraft, while missile systems monitored them, the ministry said, using standard wording for its response.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has complained in recent years of almost daily missions by the Chinese air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone.
Nine Chinese aircraft that crossed the median line on Friday were carrying out combat readiness patrols, a move that Taiwan’s defence ministry said has “deliberately created tension” and undermined peace and stability.
Beijing has threatened unspecified retaliation if Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, now travelling in Central America, should meet United States House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy as she transits through the US on her trip to Latin America.
Tsai arrived in Guatemala on Friday on a visit to shore up ties with dwindling allies after Honduras became the latest country to cut diplomatic relations with Taipei in favour of Beijing. She will also visit neighbouring Belize.
Tsai is expected to meet McCarthy in Los Angeles on her way back to Taipei later this month from Central America.
Washington had said there was no reason for China to “overreact” to the “normal, uneventful” trip, while Beijing warned the US was “playing with fire” over Tsai being hosted by officials in the US.
China staged war games around Taiwan in August after then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, and has continued military activities near Taiwan, though on a reduced scale.
A senior Taiwan official familiar with the island’s security planning told Reuters this week that China was unlikely to repeat such large exercises, but all preparations were made in case China reacts “irrationally”.