Thu. May 19th, 2022

China has yet to comment on the invasions, which Taiwan said included 34 fighter jets and four electronic warplanes.

Taiwan reports the largest invasion since october by China’s air force in its air defense zone, with the island’s Ministry of Defense saying Taiwanese fighter jets scrambled to warn 39 planes away in the latest increase in tension.

Taiwan complains for more than a year of repeated missions by China’s air force near the democratically controlled island, often in the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

Taiwan calls China’s repeated nearby military activities “gray zone” warfare, designed to carry out both Taiwan’s forces by repeatedly scrambling them, and also to test Taiwan’s responses.

The latest Chinese mission included 34 fighter jets plus four electronic warfare planes and a single bomber, the Taiwanese ministry said.

Taiwan-JetAn F-16 fighter pilot attends a military exercise at Zhi-Hang Air Base in Taitung, Taiwan [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

The plane flew in an area northeast of the Pratas, according to a map provided by the ministry.

The Taiwan Air Force has issued radio alerts and its anti-aircraft missile systems have been activated, the ministry said in a statement issued late Sunday.

There has been no immediate comment from China, which has said in the past that such shifts are exercises aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty.

China has intensified pressure on Taiwan to accept its sovereignty claims. Taiwan’s government says it wants peace, but will defend itself if attacked.

It is not clear what could have led to Sunday’s activities. China often prevents them from coinciding with the visits of senior foreign dignitaries to Taiwan, or from coinciding with certain key dates.

Continuous raids

The invasion on Sunday was the largest by Chinese warplanes since October 4, when a record 56 planes were detected in Taiwan’s air defense zone.

Taiwan reported 148 Chinese air force planes in the southern and southwestern parts of its air defense zone over a four-day period beginning on October 1, the same day that China marked an important patriotic holiday, National Day.

Prior to the latest invasion, Beijing had already sent 70 Chinese warplanes to Taiwan’s air defense zone in 17 days since the start of the new year.

No shots were fired and the Chinese planes did not fly into Taiwan’s airspace, but into its ADIZ, a broader area monitors and patrols Taiwan who act to give it more time to respond to any threats.

Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China regards self-governing democracy as part of its territory.

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