Taiwan mounts urgent response after 19 Chinese PLA jets, including two nuclear-capable bombers, enter its air defense zone


Taiwan’s air force rushed to warn off a fleet of jets belonging to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that entered its air defense identification zone, including two nuclear-capable planes, Taipei has said.

On Thursday, the Ministry of National Defence announced that 19 Chinese aircraft had entered into the southwest of the island’s air defense zone, prompting Taiwan to dispatch patrol troops to respond, as well as to activate anti-aircraft missile tracking and monitoring.

The fleet comprised 12 J-16 fighters, two Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, a pair of H-6 nuclear-capable bombers, two J-11 jets, and one Y-8 EW.

The government reported a smaller incursion last week in the same area comprising 10 PLA aircraft, among them six J-16 and two J-11 fighters. The day before the flyby, Taipei had pledged an extra $8.69 billion to be spent over the next five years to boost its arsenal against threats from China, citing concerns that Beijing’s military strength had recently been significantly beefed up.

Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its territory under its ‘One China’ policy, has frequently expressed a grievance over US involvement with Taipei – a relationship it describes as ruining the “status quo.”

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Last month, the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command conducted assault drills in response to “provocations,” citing the heightened US military and political ties with the island, which Beijing deems “collusion.” The exercises were intended to test its troops’ capability and to “further safeguard China’s sovereignty,” according to a senior PLA colonel.

Since US President Joe Biden assumed office, the White House has increased its interest in Taiwan. Several US Navy ships have cruised through the South China Sea, with Beijing blasting the move, calling the US the “biggest destroyer of peace” in late July. Meanwhile, back in April, an unofficial US delegation of representatives was sent to Taipei.

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