Taiwan reported the Chinese air force’s biggest incursion since January into its air defense zone on Monday, with the island’s defense ministry saying Taiwanese fighters rushed to warn 30 planes during the latest rise in tensions.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has complained for about two years about repeated Chinese air force missions near the democratically-ruled island. The jets often fly in the southwestern part of the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, near the Taipei-controlled Pratas Islands.
Taiwan calls China’s repeated military activities in the vicinity a “grey zone war”, designed both to wear down Taiwanese forces by repeatedly jostling them, and also to test Taiwan’s responses.
The latest Chinese mission included 22 fighters, as well as electronic warfare, early warning and anti-submarine aircraft, the Taiwanese ministry said.
The plane flew in an area northeast of the Pratas, according to a map provided by the ministry, although far from Taiwan itself.
Taiwan sent fighter jets to warn Chinese planes, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, the ministry said.
It is the largest incursion since Taiwan reported 39 Chinese aircraft in its ADIZ on January 23.
There was no immediate comment from China, which has in the past said the moves were exercises to protect the country’s sovereignty.
China’s military said last week that it had recently conducted a drill around Taiwan as a “solemn warning” against its “collusion” with the United States.
It came after US President Joe Biden angered China by appearing to signal a shift in a US policy of “strategic ambiguity” in Taiwan by saying the US would get involved militarily if China attacked the country. ‘island.
China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan to accept its sovereignty claims. Taiwan’s government says it wants peace but will defend itself if attacked.
No shots were fired and the Chinese plane did not fly in Taiwan’s airspace, but in its ADIZ, a wider area that Taiwan monitors and patrols and acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.