Taiwan shoos off Chinese fighter jets from airspace

China often transits the Taiwan Strait on its way to the South China Sea for exercises. (AP pic)

TAIPEI: Chinese fighter jets briefly entered Taiwan’s airspace on Tuesday, forcing the island to scramble its fighters, the same day Taipei announced plans for its largest annual live-fire military drill.

The Taiwanese defence ministry said it broadcast warnings and “took active responses to dispel” multiple Chinese Su-30 fighters to the southwest of the island.

The incursion came as the ministry announced that the “Han Kuang” live-fire drill would be held next month, including computer simulations and an exercise to defend against forces landing on the island.

China has ramped up fighter flights and warship crossings near Taiwan or through the Taiwan Strait since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016, as she has refused to acknowledge that the island is part of “one China”.

Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.

On Feb 10, a Chinese military jet briefly crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait separating the two sides in the first major incursion since Tsai’s landslide reelection in January.

Tsai has lashed out at Beijing for “meaningless and unnecessary” moves.

In March last year, two Chinese J-11 fighter jets crossed over the line for the first time in years, prompting Taipei to accuse Beijing of violating a long-held tacit agreement in a “reckless and provocative” move.