Taiwan says record number of Chinese warplanes detected amid NATO summit

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry says 56 Chinese aircraft crossed sensitive median line as Beijing carries out military drills.

Taiwan
Dozens of Chinese military aircraft have been detected around Taiwan during the past 24 hours, according to the island's Defence Ministry [AFP]

Taiwan has said it is watching China’s military movements after detecting the most Chinese warplanes near the island in a 24-hour window so far this year, as Beijing conducts drills that are coinciding with the NATO summit in Washington, DC.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Thursday that “66 PLA aircraft and seven PLAN vessels operating around Taiwan were detected up until 6am [22:00 GMT Wednesday] today”.

Of those, 56 aircraft crossed the sensitive median line that bisects the narrow 180-kilometre (112-mile) waterway separating the self-governing island from mainland China, according to the ministry.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry also released two pictures of a Chinese J-16 fighter and a nuclear-capable H-6 bomber, which it said were taken recently.

“The military has a detailed grasp of the activities in the seas and waters around the Taiwan Strait, including of the Chinese communists’ aircraft and ships,” ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang said.

On Wednesday, Taiwanese officials announced that China’s Shandong aircraft carrier had passed close to the Philippines on its way to military exercises in the Pacific.

The Philippines military said it had received reports of a China-Russia exercise taking place in the Philippine Sea without directly referencing the Shandong.

Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory, has complained of a sharp uptick in Chinese military activity in recent years as Beijing seeks to put pressure on the island’s Democratic Progressive Party government, which has advocated strengthening Taiwanese identity and forging closer relations with the international community.

Beijing has labelled Taiwanese President William Lai Ching-te a “dangerous separatist” and said the island should be “reunified” with the Chinese mainland by force if necessary.

In a communique released on Wednesday, NATO leaders said China has acted as a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war against Ukraine and poses systemic challenges to Europe and its security.

A spokesperson for the Chinese mission to the European Union accused NATO of “hyping up the so-called China threat” and said the declaration is full of “obvious lies and smears”.

Source: News Agencies