Eight Chinese bombers and four fighter jets entered the southwest corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Saturday, and Taiwan’s air force deployed missiles to “monitor” the invasion, the island’s defense ministry said.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has conducted almost daily flights over the water between southern Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Prata Islands in the South China Sea in recent months.
However, they have generally consisted of only one or two reconnaissance aircraft.
The presence of so many Chinese fighter jets on this mission – Taiwan said it consisted of eight nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and four J-16 fighter jets – is unusual.
A map provided by Taiwan’s Defense Ministry showed that the Chinese aircraft, which also included a Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, flew over the same waters where the latest Chinese missions have taken place near the Pratas Islands, but still far from mainland Taiwan.
Taiwan’s air force warned away the Chinese aircraft and deployed missiles to monitor them, the ministry added with standard wording on how it responds to such activities.
“Airborne warning blows had been assigned, radio warnings were issued and air defense missile systems deployed to monitor activity,” it said in a brief statement.
There was no immediate comment from China. Earlier, China said it had conducted exercises to defend its sovereignty and security.
US commitment to Taiwan ” solid ”
Beijing has been increasingly concerned about increasing US support for democratic Taiwan, especially during the Donald Trump administration that left office on Wednesday.
Last year, during a visit by senior US officials to Taipei’s Chinese aircraft, they crossed the short median line of the Taiwan Strait, which normally acts as an unofficial buffer.
The flight of the Chinese bombers and fighters on Saturday came just days after Joe Biden assumed the US presidency.
Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said the United States’ commitment to Taiwan was “solid” after the island’s de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, took part in Biden’s oath on Wednesday.