TAIPEI: Taiwan scrambled its air force today after spotting 20 Chinese warplanes crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the unofficial barrier between the two countries, Taiwan’s defence ministry said, as Beijing continues military activities near the island.
The Chinese aircraft included an unspecified number of fighter jets and drones that entered Taiwan’s northern, central, and southwestern air defence identification zones (ADIZ) this afternoon, the ministry said in a statement.
Taiwan sent aircraft to warn away the Chinese planes, while missile systems monitored them, the ministry said, using standard wording for its response.
Democratically ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has complained in recent years of almost daily missions by the Chinese air force near the island, often in the southwestern part of its ADIZ.
Taiwan believes the frequent Chinese military activities near the island this week, including a reported 37 Chinese aircraft in the island’s ADIZ from yesterday to today, are meant to exert pressure on the US amid a series of high-level talks between Beijing and Washington, according to a senior Taiwanese security official.
“China is used to maximising its military pressure amid negotiations,” the official, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said. “They want to increase their bargaining chips.”
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi met with senior US officials last week, with both sides agreeing to hold a series of consultations in the near future.
Earlier this week, the US destroyer USS Rafael Peralta and a Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Ottawa transited the sensitive Taiwan Strait, a movement that was followed and monitored by the Chinese military.