The Chinese military flew 103 warplanes towards Taiwan for 24 hours, which the island’s defence ministry described as a daily record in recent times.According to the ministry, the planes were detected between Sunday’s 6 am to Monday’s (September 18) 6 am. They returned before reaching Taiwan, in what is its customary practice.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has grown its military drills in the air and waters around Taiwan in recent times, as Xi Jinping-led country’s tensions soar with the island nation and also the United States. Notably, the US is the main supplier of arms to Taiwan and objects to change in Taiwan’s status by force.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said that 40 out of over 100 planes crossed the symbolic halfway point between mainland China and the island. Naval vessels were also reported in the last 24 hours.
The drills came soon after the US and Canada sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait, the waters separating the island from the mainland.
Calling the Chinese military’s action “harassment”, the Taiwan Defence Ministry warned that the move could escalate the current tense atmosphere.
“We urge the Beijing authorities to bear responsibility and immediately stop such kind of destructive military activities,” it said in a statement.
Last week, China sent ships including the aircraft carrier Shandong into waters near Taiwan.
China also unveiled a plan for an integrated development demonstration zone with Taiwan in China’s nearby Fujian province, trying to entice Taiwan while also warning it in what experts say is China’s long-running carrot and-stick approach.
The Chinese action recently may be an attempt by Beijing to sway Taiwan’s presidential election in January. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which leans toward formal independence for the island, is anathema to the Chinese government. China backs the Opposition candidates who bat for working with the mainland.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 when the communists took control of China during a civil war. The Nationalists who suffered loss fled to Taiwan and formed their own government here. The island is self-governing, though only a few foreign nations give it official diplomatic recognition. The US among others has formal ties with China while maintaining a representative office in Taiwan.
(With AP inputs)