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Taiwan

Chinese military plane conducts flight near Taiwan

Island’s authorities say they ‘monitored and dealt’ with latest incursion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 12:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 12:04pm

At least one Chinese Air Force Yun-8 transport plane conducted a long-haul flight near Taiwan on Sunday, the island’s defence ministry said, amid simmering tensions between the two rivals.

Taiwan dispatched its aircraft and ships to “monitor and deal with” the Yun8, which returned to its base after flying through the Bashi Channel and Miyako waterway, Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan said. It was unclear whether one plane or more made the flight.

There was no untoward incident and the public should not be alarmed, Feng said. He did not give further details.

Beijing has considered Taiwan to be a wayward province since Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist troops fled to the island in 1949 after losing the Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong’s Communist forces on the mainland.

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Beijing suspects Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party wants to declare the island’s formal independence. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with the mainland but will defend the island’s security.

Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the self-ruled democratic island under its control.

Beijing has conducted numerous similar patrols near Taiwan this year, saying such practices have been normalised as it presses ahead with a military modernisation programme that includes building aircraft carriers and stealth fighters to give it the ability to project power far from its shores.

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In September, the US Congress passed the National Defence Authorisation Act for the 2018 financial year, which authorises mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States.

That prompted a senior mainland diplomat to say this month the mainland would invade the island if any US warships made port visits there.