Taiwan defends 29 planes to warn Chinese planes in its air defense zone

The Chinese and Taiwanese national flags are displayed alongside a military aircraft in this illustration taken on April 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan scrambled jets on Tuesday to warn 29 Chinese aircraft in its air defense zone, including bombers that flew to the south of the island and into the Pacific Ocean, in the latest escalation of tensions and the biggest incursion since then. late May.

Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, has complained for the past two years or so of repeated missions by the Chinese air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of the Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, near the Pratas Islands. controlled by Taiwan.

Taiwan describes the repeated military activities of neighboring China as a “gray zone” war, which aims to weaken the Taiwanese forces by making them scramble repeatedly, and also to test Taiwan’s reactions.

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Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said the latest Chinese mission included 17 fighters and six H-6 bombers, as well as electronic warfare, early warning, anti-submarine and mid-air refueling aircraft.

Some planes flew in an area to the northeast of the Pratas River, according to a map provided by the ministry.

However, the bombers, accompanied by electronic warfare and intelligence-gathering aircraft, flew into the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan from the Philippines and into the Pacific Ocean before returning to China on the way they came.

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Taiwan has sent combat planes to warn the Chinese planes, while missile systems have been deployed to monitor them, the ministry said, using the standard wording of its response.

It is the largest incursion since Taiwan reported 30 Chinese aircraft in its ADIZ region on May 30. The biggest intrusion so far this year occurred on January 23, with 39 aircraft involved. Read more

There was no immediate comment from China, which has previously said such moves were exercises aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty.

A US State Department spokesman told Reuters in an email that Beijing “must stop its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and intimidation against Taiwan.”

China named its third aircraft carrier on Friday, Fujian, after the province corresponding to Taiwan. Read more

The Chinese military said last month that it had conducted exercises around Taiwan as a “severe warning” of “collusion” with the United States.

This came after US President Joe Biden angered China when he appeared to indicate a change in US policy of “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan by saying the United States would intervene militarily if China attacked the island.

China has increased pressure on Taiwan to accept its sovereignty claims. The Taipei government says it wants peace but will defend itself if attacked.

No shots were fired and Chinese planes did not fly into Taiwan’s airspace, but into its ADIZ, a wider area that Taiwan monitors and patrols working to give it more time to respond to any threats.

Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Michael Martina in Washington. Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Mark Heinrich

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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