China unleashes 71 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence zone in largest military action of its kind to date

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CHINA has staged its largest ever incursion into Taiwan’s air defence zone with 71 planes buzzing the island.

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.


Taiwan released this image of a Chinese warplane after the incursionCredit: AP

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

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, said it had conducted “strike drills” in the sea and airspace around Taiwan.

During the latest incursion, several Chinese planes, mostly fighter jets, briefly crossed the median line before returning to China, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.

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

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

A senior Taiwan official familiar with security planning said China had staged the military “provocation” to express anger at a new US law that boosts military assistance for Taiwan.

China’s military said the exercises were “a firm response to the escalating collusion and provocations by the US and the Taiwanese authorities”.

Tensions between the two nations have hit boiling point in recent months.

Bejing has continued to flex its military muscles by launching jets into Taiwan’s airspace and firing missiles in haunting drills.

By one count, there have been more than 1,700 such incursions so far this year, compared with 969 in 2021.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said it recorded around 380 incursions in 2020.

China’s leader Xi Jinping has ordered his military to prepare for war as he warned his nation’s security situation is “increasingly unstable”.

China regards the island as part of its territory and said any moves it takes towards full-scale independence will lead to an invasion.

A visit of US politician Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan earlier this year prompted a furious response from Beijing, with Chinese warships and fighter jets surrounding the island in massive military exercises.

While Beijing may be preparing for a lightning war to storm across the Taiwan Strait and capture the island, experts have said the war could be anything but quick.

With tough beaches, rocky terrain, well-drilled defenders, and unforgiving seas, China could face the same brutal grinding warfare that Russia is facing in Ukraine.

Taking Taiwan could even require Beijing to muster a force of two million troops, it’s been claimed.

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