Seventy-one Chinese Air Force aircraft, including fighter jets and drones, entered Taiwan’s air defense zone in the past 24 hours, the island’s government said Monday, the largest reported incursion to date.
Of the planes, 43 also crossed the centerline of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial buffer between the two sides that lies within the defense zone, Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a report, as Beijing continued to monitor military activity near it. China claims island continues.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency said it was the largest Chinese air force raid to date, though there was no sense of alarm on the island, which has witnessed a steady increase in Chinese pressure in recent years.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, said it had held “strike exercises” in the sea and airspace around Taiwan on Sunday in response to what it said was provocation from the democratically-ruled island and the United States.
Taiwan, which strongly rejects China’s claims of sovereignty, said the exercises showed Beijing is destroying regional peace and trying to intimidate Taiwan’s people.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s office said Tsai will convene a high-level national security meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss strengthening the island’s civil defense system, followed by a press conference on new civil defense measures.
The statement gave no details, but the defense ministry has said it is considering extending mandatory military service beyond four months as the war in Ukraine and rising tensions with Beijing renewed discussion on how to respond to Chinese military pressure.
“The more preparation we make, the less chance there is of hasty attempts at aggression. The more we are united, the stronger and safer Taiwan would become,” Tsai told a military ceremony on Monday.
During the latest raid, several Chinese aircraft, mostly fighter jets, briefly crossed the centerline in the sensitive Taiwan Strait before returning to China, according to a map released by Taiwan’s defense ministry. Seven Chinese naval vessels were also discovered near Taiwan, the ministry said.
The Chinese military also sent early warning, electronic warfare and anti-submarine aircraft, as well as drones, to Taiwan’s Southern Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, according to the report, which detailed Chinese activities near Taiwan during the 24 hours to 6 a.m. (10 p.m.) were described. GMT on Sunday).
Taipei has complained of repeated missions by the Chinese Air Force over the past two years, often in southern areas of ADIZ.
Taiwan sent unspecified fighter jets to warn the Chinese planes away while missile systems monitored their flight, the ministry said, using standard terms for its response.
In recent years, China has stepped up diplomatic, military and economic pressure on the self-governed island to accept Beijing’s rule. Taiwan’s government says it wants peace but will defend itself if attacked.
Reporting by Yimou Lee; Edited by Christopher Cushing and Edmund Klamann