Taiwan detects 43 Chinese warplanes around island: Ministry

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More than 40 Chinese warplanes were detected around Taiwan in a day, the self-ruled island’s defense ministry said on Wednesday.

Beijing claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary, and has ratcheted up military and diplomatic pressures on the island this year.

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Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a daily statement that 43 Chinese aircraft and 7 naval vessels were detected around the island in a 24-hour period leading up to 6:00 am Wednesday (2200 GMT Tuesday).

The ministry said “37 of the detected aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan’s southwest and southeast (air identification zone) ADIZ”.

The median line bisects the 180-kilometre (110-mile) waterway separating the island from China.

This month, Taiwan’s defense minister said China had stepped up “military intimidation” this year by flying an increased number of warplanes around the island and accelerating the deployment of ballistic missiles.

The ministry reports near-daily warplane incursions by the Chinese military, which in the past year has carried out massive war games around Taiwan’s waters.

In September, China sent in 103 planes around Taiwan within a 24-hour period, which Taipei described as “a recent high”.

The ministry said at the time that Beijing’s “continued military harassment can easily lead to a sharp escalation in tension and worsen regional security”.

In April, Beijing conducted military exercises to simulate the encirclement of the island, after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen met Kevin McCarthy, the US House speaker at the time, in California.

Beijing hates Tsai for her refusal to accept that Taiwan belongs to China, and often makes a strong show of force when officials from various countries meet her as it denotes the island’s sovereignty.

Last week, China’s defense ministry accused Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party of pushing the island toward a “dangerous situation of war” at an “accelerated pace”, after reports that Taipei planned to buy thousands of military drones in the next four years.

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