China Taiwan tensions bubble as Beijing holds massive war games on island’s doorstep and jets invade airspace 17 times
TENSIONS between Taiwan and China are mounting as Beijing’s forces hold massive wargames on the island’s doorstep.
Chinese air force planes violated Taiwanese airspace 17 times during the live firing drills, which come amid the visit of the most senior US official to the island in decades.
China denounced what it called collusion between Taiwan, which it claims as part of its territory, and the United States.
It said the combat drills were being undertaken to "protect its sovereignty" and were a “necessary response” to the visit of US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach.
China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has long threatened to use force to bring it under its control.
Taiwan scrambled fighter jets on Friday as 18 Chinese aircraft buzzed the island, crossing the sensitive mid-line of the Taiwan Strait.
The island’s defence ministry said ROCAF, Taiwan’s air force, has scrambled to intercept the Chinese aircraft.
“Sep. 18, two H-6 bombers, eight J-16 fighters, four J-10 fighters and four J-11 fighters crossed the midline of the TaiwanStrait and entered Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ,” the ministry.
“ROCAF scrambled fighters, and deployed air defense missile system to monitor the activities.”
Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper said Taiwanese jets had scrambled 17 times over four hours, warning China’s air force to stay away.
It also showed a picture of missiles being loaded onto an F-16 fighter at the Hualien air base on Taiwan’s east coast.
In Beijing, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Friday’s maneuvers, about which he gave no details, involved the People’s Liberation Army’s eastern theatre command.
“They are a reasonable, necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ren said.
The tensions come as the Trump administration is reportedly pushing the sale weapons to Taiwan.
These include long-range missiles that would allow Taiwanese F-16 jets to hit distant Chinese targets in the event of a conflict, the New York Times reports.
Taiwan bought 66 F-16s last year for $8 billion, one of the single largest arms packages to the island in many years.
Former Chinese president Chiang Kai-shek and his supporters fled to Taiwan in 1949 following the Chinese Communist Party victory in the country's civil war.
The island of 25 million people has since developed its own democratic identity and party of current President Tsai Ing-wen supports moves towards full independence – which Beijing says will trigger war.
China has said that it would use force if necessary to reunite it with the mainland by 2050.
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