More than 30 Chinese aircraft crossed into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Thursday, a day after U.S., Japanese, and Philippine coast guard ships completed law enforcement drills near the disputed South China Sea.
The Taipei Times, quoting Ministry of National Defense spokesman Sun Li-Fang, reported at about 5 a.m. Thursday, “a total of 37 Chinese military aircraft” entered Taiwan’s southwestern air defense identification zone.
“Some continued … toward the western Pacific for long-range reconnaissance training,” Sun said.
The Global Times, a Chinese state-run news outlet, reported the recent patrols and exercise “served as deterrence against the rising tensions following U.S. provocations in the region.”
China has steadily increased its military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, including provocative maneuvers against Taiwan, such as mock blockades and aircraft penetrating Taiwan’s airspace.
The Taipei Times reported the Ministry of Defense said the Chinese aircraft included J-11 and J-16 fighters, Xian H-6 bombers, YU-20 tanker aircraft, and airborne early warning and control system aircraft.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, China and Russia conducted joint aerial exercises in the region, with the first phase in the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on Tuesday and the second phase in the western Pacific on Wednesday, the Global Times reported.
China claims the democratic self-governing island of Taiwan as part of its territory, and maintains the Taiwan Strait is part of its exclusive economic zone. The U.S. and its allies regularly sail through and fly over the strait to emphasize their contention that the waters are international.
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