Taiwan reports China’s largest ever incursion to its air defence zone

Several Chinese planes briefly cross median line in the sensitive region before returning to China

Stuti Mishra
Monday 26 December 2022 17:08 GMT

Related: China carries out military drills near Taiwan after Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August

Taiwan accused China of the largest ever incursion into its territory on Monday, saying 71 Chinese air force aircraft, including fighter jets and drones, entered its defence identification zone.

Of the aircraft, 43 also crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line, an unofficial buffer between the two sides that lies within the defence zone, Taiwan’s defence ministry said.

Seven Chinese navy ships were also detected near Taiwan, the ministry said.

China’s military also sent early warning, electronic warfare and antisubmarine aircraft into Taiwan’s southern air defence identification zone, according to the report.

Taiwan’s official Central News Agency said it was the largest Chinese air force incursion to date.

China said it conducted “strike drills” in response to what it alleged was provocation from the democratically-governed island and the United States.

“This is a firm response to the current US-Taiwan escalation and provocation,” said Shi Yi, spokesman for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Eastern Theatre Command.

Tensions in the region have been at the highest in decades since US speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan – a trip viewed as a provocation by China, which claims the island as its own territory.

Taiwan, which strongly rejects China’s sovereignty claims, said the drills showed Beijing was destroying regional peace.

The office of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said she will call a high-level national security meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss reinforcing the island’s defences.

The statement gave no details, but the defence ministry has said it was considering extending compulsory military service beyond four months, as the war in Ukraine and rising tensions with Beijing renewed discussion about how to respond to China’s pressure.

“The more preparations we make, the less likely there will be rash attempts of aggression,” Ms Tsai told a military ceremony on Monday.

“The more united we are, the stronger and safer Taiwan would become.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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