More than two dozen Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Monday in what was described by Taipei as the biggest incursion in a year.
According to a statement by Taiwan’s defence ministry, of the 25 aircraft that entered its airspace 18 were fighter jets and the rest were bombers and anti-submarine aircraft. It was the largest daily incursion since Taiwan’s defence ministry started to report Chinese Air Force activities in Taiwan’s ADIZ last year.
Such incursions have become a regular feature of the simmering tensions between China and Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory. China’s Xi Jinping has vowed to take back the island by force, if necessary.
Since 3 April, there have been incursions by the Chinese Air Force every day, the last biggest being 15 aircraft on 7 April.
In response, Taiwan’s defence ministry said that they responded with an air patrol, anti-aircraft missile tracking, and radio warnings.
In October 2020, Taiwan revealed that it had spent almost $900m (£654m) in the first nine months of the year on scrambling its air force against Chinese incursions.
Monday’s incursion came a day after the US secretary of state Antony Blinken warned China against using force against Taiwan during an interview with NBC News.
“What we’ve seen and what is a real concern to us is increasingly aggressive actions by the government in Beijing directed at Taiwan, raising tensions in the straits. And we have a commitment to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, a bipartisan commitment that’s existed for many, many years, to make sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself,” he said.
“We stand behind those commitments. And all I can tell you is it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change the existing status quo by force,” Mr Blinken said.
As tensions have grown between the US and China on a range of issues including trade, Washington has become increasingly vocal in its support of Taiwan, a pattern started during the Trump administration that has continued after Joe Biden became president.
In late March, a US ambassador took part in a visit to Taiwan for the first time in 42 years.