Taiwan reports large incursion by Chinese air force

  • Chinese bombers and fighter jets flew over Taiwan's air defence identification zone.
  • It was an unusual show of force.
  • The US indicated its support for Taiwan.



Eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan's air defence identification zone on Saturday, and Taiwan's air force deployed missiles to "monitor" the incursion, the island's defence ministry said.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has conducted almost daily flights over the waters between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea in recent months.

However, they have generally consisted of just one or two reconnaissance aircraft.

READ | China shadows two US ships through the Taiwan Strait

The presence of so many Chinese combat aircraft on this mission - Taiwan said it was made up of eight nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and four J-16 fighter jets - was unusual.

A map provided by Taiwan's defence ministry showed that the Chinese aircraft, including a Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, flew over the same waters where the most recent Chinese missions have been taking place near the Pratas Islands, though still well away from mainland Taiwan.

Taiwan's air force warned away the Chinese aircraft and deployed missiles to monitor them, the ministry said, using standard wording for how it responds to such activities.

"Airborne alert sorties had been tasked, radio warnings issued and air defence missile systems deployed to monitor the activity," it said in a brief statement.

US response

The US State Department urged China to stop pressuring Taiwan and reaffirmed its commitment to the island and desire to deepen ties.

"We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan's democratically elected representatives," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

"We will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defence capability."

There was no immediate comment from China. In the past, China has said it has been carrying out exercises to defend its sovereignty and security.

Taiwan's foreign ministry expressed its thanks for the show of US support, adding they would work closely with the Biden administration to strengthen their close partnership.

Lo Chih-Cheng, a senior lawmaker for Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party who sits on parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, told Reuters China was trying to deter the new US government from backing the island.

"It's sending a message to the Biden administration," he said.

Beijing has watched with growing concern increasing US support for democratic Taiwan, especially during Donald Trump's administration, which left office on Wednesday.

Last year, during visits by senior US officials to Taipei, Chinese aircraft briefly crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which normally serves as an unofficial buffer.

The flight by the Chinese bombers and fighters on Saturday came just days after Joe Biden assumed the US presidency.

Emily Horne, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said the US commitment to Taiwan was "rock-solid" after the island's de facto ambassador in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, attended Biden's swearing-in on Wednesday.


Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 3769 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2555 votes
No, I don't think they need it
37% - 3650 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.30
(-0.23)
ZAR/GBP
21.27
(-0.21)
ZAR/EUR
18.31
(-0.12)
ZAR/AUD
11.80
(-0.12)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(-0.12)
Gold
1692.10
(-0.10)
Silver
25.19
(-0.35)
Platinum
1118.00
(+0.13)
Brent Crude
67.21
(+4.17)
Palladium
2336.12
(+0.97)
All Share
67743.54
(-0.85)
Top 40
62250.03
(-0.97)
Financial 15
12674.59
(+0.82)
Industrial 25
87893.58
(-1.99)
Resource 10
69166.37
(-0.09)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo