Tensions: Taiwan detects record number of Chinese planes

Tensions: Taiwan detects record number of Chinese planes
Tensions: Taiwan detects record number of Chinese planes

Taiwan detects record number of Chinese planes

Published today at 5:42 a.m.

Taiwan detected 45 Chinese planes around the island on Wednesday, a new record this year, less than a week before new President Lai Ching-te, a supporter of firmness against Beijing, takes office.

Taiwan is an autonomously governed island that Beijing claims as part of its territory and says it is ready to reconquer by force if necessary.

Six ships

Of these 45 aircraft, “26 crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait,” said the Ministry of Defense in a press release, referring to the line which bisects this 180 km wide strait between the island and mainland China.

This is the highest number of Chinese planes detected around Taiwan in a 24-hour period this year. Six Chinese ships were also seen around Taiwan in the 24 hours before 6 a.m. local time. The ministry adds that it has “monitored the situation and reacted accordingly”.

On Tuesday evening, the ministry said 23 Chinese aircraft, including fighter jets and drones, were detected around Taiwan over a two-hour period.

“Dangerous separatist”

Beijing considers Taiwanese President-elect Lai Ching-te, who is to be inaugurated on May 20, as a “dangerous separatist”. And since he won the January vote, tensions between Beijing and Taiwan have increased.

In recent years, China has increased its military pressure on the island by sending warplanes and ships almost daily, which experts say constitutes a “gray zone tactic”, i.e. actions of intimidation which do not amount to acts of war strictly speaking.

The largest deployment ever around Taiwan took place last September, when Beijing sent 103 warplanes and other aircraft, 40 of which crossed the median line.

“Irrational behavior”

In addition to its frequent displays of military force, China has also sent coast guard ships and other state fishing vessels since February around Kinmen, a remote island dependent on Taipei and located five kilometers from the city Chinese from Xiamen.

On Tuesday, five Chinese coast guard vessels sailed in Kinmen’s “restricted waters” for three hours before leaving, according to the Taiwan coast guard.

This is the fifth incursion observed in May, which the Taiwan Coast Guard said “severely affects navigation safety and undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” “We call on China to exercise restraint and immediately cease this irrational behavior,” they said in a statement.

Lai Ching-te, like outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, rejects Beijing’s claims on Taiwan. China condemned him and Hsiao Bi-khim, future vice-president, who was Taiwan’s representative to the United States, as an “independence duo”.

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