20 more Chinese jets fly by Taiwan, a day after biggest-ever incursion

TAIPEI • Twenty more Chinese military planes entered Taiwan's air defence zone yesterday, a day after Beijing marked the founding of the People's Republic of China with the largest-ever incursion by the Chinese air force into the island's air defence zone, the Defence Ministry in Taipei said.

The latest show of force followed an incursion by 38 Chinese aircraft on Friday, the largest reported to date.

Taiwan had sharply criticised China yesterday, after the intrusion on Friday. The self-ruled island has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China's air force, often in the south-western part of its air defence zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

Taiwanese fighter jets were scrambled when the 38 Chinese aircraft intruded in two waves on Friday, the Taiwan Defence Ministry said. It added that Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn away the Chinese aircraft, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them.

"China has been wantonly engaged in military aggression, damaging regional peace," Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters yesterday morning.

The first wave of incursions comprised 18 J-16 and four Su-30 fighter jets plus two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft, while the second had 10 J-16s, 2 H-6s and an early warning aircraft, the Taiwan ministry said.

The first batch of Chinese aircraft all flew in an area close to the Pratas Islands, with the two bombers flying closest to the atoll, according to a map issued by the ministry.

The second group flew down into the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan from the Philippines, a key waterway that links the Pacific Ocean with the disputed South China Sea.

China has yet to comment.

It has previously said that such flights were to protect the country's sovereignty and were aimed at "collusion" between Taiwan and the United States, the island's most important international backer. The previous largest incursion, in June, involved 28 Chinese aircraft.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 03, 2021, with the headline '20 more Chinese jets fly by Taiwan, a day after biggest-ever incursion'. Subscribe