China flies 38 warplanes near Taiwan


TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP)  Taiwan’s defense ministry said that China’s military had flown 38 fighter jets and other fighter jets near Taiwan. It was the largest aerial display since large-scale military exercises that simulated a blockade of the island in early April.

Naval vessels have also been sighted in the region as part of China’s long-running intimidation campaign against Taiwan.

 China’s People’s Liberation Army protested the flight of a US Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol plane through the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China from Beijing’s claimed democracy on an autonomous island.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command on Thursday called the flight an act of provocation “openly hyped” by the United States, saying it used fighter jets to monitor the plane’s flight.

These actions “perfectly prove that the United States is disturbing peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and creating security risks,” the statement said.

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“The United States will continue to fly, navigate and operate as long as international law allows, including within the Taiwan Strait,” the statement said.

The United States remains Taiwan’s closest military and political ally despite having no formal diplomatic ties with it. US law requires Washington to treat threats to the island as a matter of “serious concern”, but it remains unclear whether US troops will be sent to defend the island.

Beijing has threatened to take Taiwan by force if necessary, and China’s ferocious nationalist leader, Xi Jinping, has vowed never to give up “an inch” of his country’s claimed territory. is almost entirely claimed by the sea.

In addition to recent flights by Chinese fighter jets, Chinese naval vessels were spotted in the area between 6 a.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday, the island’s defense ministry said. The ministry said 19 planes flew over the centerline of the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from the mainland. It reportedly included five SU-30s, two J-16 fighters, and one drone.

The large, durable TB-001 Scorpion, capable of carrying a variety of bombs and missiles, circled the island in relatively infrequent movements, according to Pentagon charts.

It’s not clear what prompted China’s large-scale action, but China’s efforts to train for a possible attack, undermine the island’s military strength, and influence Taiwan’s politics. Efforts are becoming more and more ambitious.

U.S. military officials recently said they were growing concerned that a major military build-up in China would increase the likelihood of conflict.

China held an exercise in California simulating an island blockade after awkward talks between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China opposes any official-level exchanges between Taiwan and other governments.

Taiwan and China separated in 1949 after a civil war that ended with the Communist Party taking control of the mainland. The island was never part of the People’s Republic of China, but Beijing says it must be united with the mainland by force if necessary.