In the most recent flare-up of tensions and greatest intrusion since late May, Taiwan scrambled jets on Tuesday to scare away 29 Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone, including bombers that flew south of the island and into the Pacific.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has protested recently about frequent Chinese air force missions close to the democratically run island, frequently in the southwest corner of its air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
China’s periodic military exercises in the area are referred as in Taiwan as “grey zone” warfare because they are intended to both exhaust Taiwanese forces via constant scrambling and to test Taiwanese reactions.
According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, the most recent Chinese mission featured 17 fighters, six H-6 bombers, as well as aircraft for electronic warfare, early warning, antisubmarine, and aerial refuelling.
A chart given by the ministry shows that some of the planes flew northeast of the Pratas.
However, the bombers went through the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines and into the Pacific, before turning around and returning to China along the same path, accompanied by an electronic warfare and an intelligence gathering aircraft.
Using conventional language for its response, the ministry stated that Taiwan despatched combat planes to warn off the Chinese aircraft as missile systems monitored them.
Since Taiwan detected 30 Chinese aircraft in its ADIZ on May 30, it was the greatest invasion. On January 23, 39 aeroplanes took part in the largest event so far this year.
China, which has previously stated that similar actions were drills intended to preserve the country’s sovereignty, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Chinese military’s extensive exercise, according to Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu, demonstrated that China’s military danger is “more serious than ever.”