Taiwan accused Beijing on Saturday of bullying and damaging regional peace after Chinese fighter jets and bombers made their largest-ever raid on the island’s air defense zone.
Beijing marked its national holiday on Friday with its largest air show of violence against Taiwan to date, with the self-governed democratic island buzzing with 38 warplanes, including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers.
Democratic Taiwan’s 23 million people live under the constant threat of invasion from China, which considers the island its territory and has vowed to one day take it, by force if necessary.
Under President Xi Jinping, Chinese warplanes pass through the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) almost daily.
But Friday’s raid led to a particularly sharp rebuke from Taipei.
“China has been bellicose and damaged regional peace while being involved in a lot of harassment,” Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang told reporters on Saturday.
“It is clear that the world, the international community, is increasingly rejecting such behavior from China.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it shook its planes to broadcast warnings after 22 fighters, two bombers and an anti-submarine plane entered southwest ADIZ island on Friday.
A second batch of 13 jets crossed Taiwan’s ADIZ later on Friday in a rare overnight raid, bringing the total to a record 38, the ministry said.
That was followed on Saturday by another raid of 20 aircraft.
The ADIZ is not the same as Taiwan’s territorial airspace, but covers a much larger area that overlaps with part of China’s own Air Defense Identification Zone and even includes part of mainland China.
Mass raids used to be rare.
But in the past two years, Beijing has begun sending large flights to Taiwan’s ADIZ to signal discontent at key moments — and to regularly pressure Taipei’s aging yacht fleet.
Last week, 24 Chinese warplanes flew into the area after Taiwan signed up to a major trans-Pacific trade pact.
Friday’s show of force came the same week that Beijing accused Britain of “evil attentions” after it sent a frigate to sail through the Taiwan Strait.
China claims the strait as its own waterway, along with most of the disputed South China Sea. Most other countries consider them to be international waters open to everyone.
Beijing has stepped up pressure on Taipei since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, who said it views the island as “already independent” and not part of “one China”.
Last year, Chinese military jets made a record 380 raids on Taiwan’s defense zone, and the number of breakthroughs in the first nine months of this year has already exceeded 500.
The previous one-day record was on June 15 when 28 jets breached Taiwan’s ADIZ.
Xi has described Taiwan becoming part of the mainland as “inevitable”.
US military officials have begun to talk openly about fears that China might consider the previously unthinkable and invade.
Protecting Taiwan has become a rare bipartisan issue in Washington, and a growing number of Western countries have begun to join the United States in “freedom of navigation” exercises to defend China’s claims to the South China Sea and the Strait of Taiwan. to push back Taiwan.
Britain sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait on Monday for the first time since 2008.
The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command accused Britain of “evil intent to sabotage peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.
Alexander Huang, an associate professor at Tamkang University in Taipei, said he believed the latest airstrike wasn’t just about sending a message to Taiwan.
“There are three other attack groups in the region, two American and one British,” he told AFP.
“China is sending a political message to the US and UK on its National Day: Don’t mess in my area.”
Canadian, French and Australian warships have all made voyages through the Taiwan Strait in recent years, sparking protests from China.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)