China has made the second-largest intrusion into Taiwan’s air defense zone this year, with Taipei reporting that 30 jets, including more than 20 fighters, have entered the area.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said late Monday that it had deployed its own aircraft and anti-aircraft missile systems to monitor the latest Chinese activity.
In recent years, Beijing has begun sending large-scale aircraft to signal dissatisfaction with Taiwan’s defense zone and to regularly emphasize Taipei’s aging fighter fleet.
Self-governing democratic Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which sees the island as its territory and promises to occupy it one day by using force if necessary.
The United States last week accused Beijing of escalating tensions over the island, with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken citing aircraft infiltration as an example of “increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity.”
Blinken’s remarks came after US President Joe Biden violated US policy for decades, when he said in response to a question during a visit to Japan that Washington would defend Taiwan militarily if attacked by China.
But the White House has since insisted on its “strategic ambiguity” policy that it has not changed whether it will intervene.
Monday’s intrusion was the largest since Jan. 23, when 39 aircraft entered the Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ.
ADIZ is not like Taiwan’s regional airspace, but includes much larger areas that overlap with parts of China’s own air defense identification zone and even overlap with parts of the mainland.
A flight map provided by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense shows that the planes entered the southwest corner of the ADIZ before re-looping out.
Last year, Taiwan recorded 969 intrusions by Chinese warplanes into its ADIZ, more than double the 380 performed in 2020, according to an AFP database.
China sent the largest number of aircraft in a single day, 56 on October 4, 2021.
There were a record 196 entries that month, mostly in the run-up to China’s annual National Day celebrations.
So far in 2022, Taiwan has reported 465 intrusions, an increase of about 50 percent over the same period last year.
The sheer number has put the Air Force under tremendous pressure, and it has suffered a number of fatal accidents in recent years.
A pilot has died after a trainer jet crashed in southern Kaohsiung, local media reported on Tuesday.
This is not the first fatal crash this year – one of Taiwan’s most advanced fighter jets, the F-16V, sank in January.
Last March, Taiwan grounded all military aircraft after one pilot was killed and another went missing after their fighters collided in mid-air in the third fatal crash in less than six months.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)