TAIPEI (Reuters) – 28 Chinese Air Force planes, including nuclear fighters and bombers, entered the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone on Tuesday, the Chinese government said, in the largest intrusion reported to date.
Taiwan has complained in recent months about the Chinese Air Force’s repeated missions near the autonomous island, which is concentrated in the southwestern part of its airspace, near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
The intrusion is the largest since the ministry began regularly reporting on the activities of the Chinese air force, breaking the previous record of 25 aircraft reported on April 12.
The ministry added that Taiwanese fighter planes were sent to intercept and repel the Chinese planes, while missile defense systems were deployed to monitor them.
Beijing did not immediately comment, but the news came after the Group of Seven issued a joint statement on Sunday stressing “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
China has previously described these tasks as necessary to protect its sovereignty and deal with “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.
The United States, which, like most countries, does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, is watching with concern rising tensions with Beijing.
China describes Taiwan as its most sensitive regional issue and has never given up any use of force to ultimately secure unity.
(Ben Blanchard, French version by Kate Enteringer, edited by Blandine Hinault)