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J-11 bombers were among the Chinese warplanes that crossed into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Sunday. Photo:

Taiwan says Chinese warplanes, US aircraft entered its air defence zone

  • Island’s military sent radio warnings to People’s Liberation Army jets and missile systems were deployed to monitor them
  • Beijing last week called PLA activities in the Taiwan Strait a ‘stern response’ to external interference and independence forces

Seven People’s Liberation Army warplanes and a US reconnaissance aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Sunday, the island’s defence ministry said, as tensions continue to rise across the strait.

Five PLA aircraft – a Y-8 reconnaissance plane, two J-10 fighter jets and two J-11 bombers – were seen near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea, the Ministry of National Defence said in a statement.

They were followed hours later by two J-11 bombers in the same area, it said separately.

The defence ministry also said a US reconnaissance plane was in the same southwestern part of the air defence zone while the five PLA warplanes were there, without giving further details.

It was the first time the ministry has mentioned the presence of US military aircraft since mid-September, when it began giving almost daily reports on Chinese military activities in its ADIZ.


Taiwan air force conducts military drills after incursion by mainland Chinese warplanes

Taiwan air force conducts military drills after incursion by mainland Chinese warplanes

Air defence identification zones are early warning systems that help countries to detect incursions into their airspace. Any aircraft entering such an area is supposed to report its route and purpose to the “host” nation, though the zones are classified as international airspace and pilots are not legally bound to make such a notification.

Taiwan’s military on Sunday said it had sent radio warnings to the PLA aircraft and air defence missile systems were deployed to monitor their activities.

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The latest incursion comes as Beijing has stepped up pressure on self-ruled Taiwan, including by sending more warplanes across the midline that divides the Taiwan Strait.

Last week, the US Indo-Pacific Command said a US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea to carry out “maritime security operations”, a move seen as “a show of muscle” by Beijing, which responded with a four-day military drill.


Why has the relationship between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan taken a turn for the worse?

Why has the relationship between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan taken a turn for the worse?

Beijing sees Taiwan as a part of its territory to be brought under mainland China control, by force if necessary.

Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian on Thursday said the PLA’s activities in the Taiwan Strait were a “stern response to interference by external forces and the provocations of Taiwan independence forces”.
The new US administration urged Beijing to end its military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan after the island’s military reported one of the largest PLA incursions into its airspace – involving 12 fighter jets, two anti-submarine aircraft and a reconnaissance plane – on January 23.

Under former president Donald Trump, Washington elevated relations with Taiwan, approving billions of dollars of weapons sales and sending high-level officials to the island, which observers have said could complicate the new US government’s China policy.

At a virtual event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations last week, US military officials including former Pentagon policy chief Michele Flournoy and David Petraeus, former head of the US Central Command, warned that Taiwan may become a flashpoint between the world’s two largest economies.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: PLA fighters and US spy plane in Taiwan Strait