Taiwan on Saturday accused Beijing of threatening and damaging regional peace after Chinese fighter jets and bombers infiltrated the island’s air defenses in its biggest ever incursion.
Beijing marked its national day on Friday with its largest ever aerial demonstration against Taiwan, buzzing the self-governing democratic island with 38 warplanes, including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers.
Democratic Taiwan’s 23 million people live under constant threat of invasion by China, which sees the island as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize it by force if necessary.
Under President Xi Jinping, Chinese warplanes are entering Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on an almost daily basis.
But Friday’s incursion drew a particularly scathing rebuke from Taipei.
Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters on Saturday, “China is harming regional peace and harming regional peace while engaging in a number of threatening acts.”
“It is clear that the world, the international community, more and more rejects such behavior by China.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it scrambled its aircraft to broadcast a warning after 22 fighters, two bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft entered the island’s southwest ADIZ on Friday.
According to the ministry, a second batch of 13 jets crossed into Taiwan’s ADIZ later on Friday in a rare night incursion, bringing the total to a record 38.
After this, 20 aircraft made further infiltration on Saturday.
ADIZ is not the same as Taiwan’s territorial airspace, but covers a much larger area that overlaps with part of China’s own air defense identification zone and even includes some mainland China.
Large-scale infiltration used to be rare.
But over the past two years Beijing has begun sending large flights to Taiwan’s ADIZ to signal discontent at critical moments – and to keep Taipei’s old fighter fleet under regular strain.
Last week, 24 Chinese warplanes flew over the region after Taiwan applied to join a major trans-Pacific trade deal.
Friday’s force majeure came the same week that Beijing accused Britain of giving “bad attention” when it sent a frigate through the Taiwan Straits.
China claims most of the strait along the disputed South China Sea to be its waterway. Most other nations see them as international waters open to all.
Beijing has increased pressure on Taipei since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who has said it views the island as “already independent” and not part of “one China”.
Last year, Chinese military jets made a record 380 incursions into Taiwan’s defense sector, and the number of breaches has already exceeded 500 for the first nine months of this year.
The previous single-day record was on 15 June when 28 jets broke Taiwan’s ADIZ.
Xi described Taiwan becoming part of the mainland as “inevitable”.
US military officials have begun talking openly about fears that China may consider an invasion unthinkable at first.
The protection of Taiwan has become a rare bipartisan issue in Washington and a growing number of Western nations have begun to join the United States in a “freedom of navigation” exercise to push back China’s claims on the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. .
Britain sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait on Monday for the first time since 2008.
The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army accused Britain of acting with “bad intentions to break the peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits”.
Associate Professor Alexander Huang of Tamkang University in Taipei said he believed the latest airstrike was not just about sending a message to Taiwan.
“There are three other carrier attack groups in the area, two Americans and one British,” he told AFP.
“China is sending a political message to the US and UK on their National Day: Don’t mess with my territory.”
Canada, France and Australian warships have traveled through the Taiwan Strait in recent years, which has been opposed by China.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)