BusinessMirror

China sends 25 warplanes near Taiwan in biggest drill this year

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CHINA’S air force sent 25 fighters and bombers into the Taiwan Strait, escalating military pressure on the government in Taipei as it boosts ties with the US.

Beijing deployed 14 J-16 and four J-10 fighters, four H-6K bombers, two Y-8 anti-sub warfare planes and one KJ-500 early warning aircraft into the southwest section of Taiwan’s air defense identifica­tion zone on Monday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

The sortie was the largest China has sent toward Taiwan this year. The ministry said Taiwan’s air force responded by sending patrol aircraft to the area and tracking the Chinese planes with missile defense systems.

Chinese military activity has steadily picked up around Taiwan in recent months. The Chinese Defense Ministry said last week that the Liaoning aircraft carrier had carried out exercises near Taiwan recently and the navy is planning more drills. The People’s Liberation Army also said last week that it monitored the USS John S. Mccain destroyer as it sailed through the Taiwan Strait.

Washington and Beijing have been issuing warnings to each other regarding Taiwan since

President Joe Biden took office in January, adding to tensions that increased steadily during the Trump administra­tion. On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China should avoid encroachin­g on Taiwan, saying Beijing was fomenting tensions in the strait with “aggressive actions.”

The US State Department said in January that Washington had a “rock solid” commitment to Taipei after China flew more than a dozen military aircraft, including the H-6K bombers, into the strait. The bombers are believed to be capable of carrying land-attack cruise missiles.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi used an annual press briefing last month to warn the Biden administra­tion to be careful in its dealings with Taipei. Wang said the US should stop “crossing lines and playing with fire,” and said there was “no room for compromise or concession­s” in Beijing’s claim to sovereignt­y over Taiwan.

The Communist Party ruling China sees Taiwan as its territory, which must be seized by force if necessary. Taipei rejects the claim, saying Taiwan is already a de facto sovereign nation.

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