Taiwan scrambles jets as Chinese aircraft enter air defence zone

Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained of repeated incursions by China into its defence zone [File: Shao Jing/Xinhua via AP]
Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained of repeated incursions by China into its defence zone

Taiwan’s air force has scrambled once again to warn off 19 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone, according to its defence ministry, in the latest uptick in tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

The Chinese aircraft included 12 J-16 fighters and two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, the ministry said on Thursday.

Last Friday, the ministry said that Taiwan’s air force warned away 10 Chinese aircraft that entered its air zone in a similar incident.

It involved six J-16 and two J-11 fighters along with one anti-submarine and one reconnaissance aircraft, according to the ministry.

Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained of repeated missions by China’s air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of its air defence zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Island.

Last week’s incident came a day after Taiwan proposed boosting military spending by $8.7bn over the next five years, including on new missiles, warning of an urgent need to upgrade weapons in the face of a “severe threat” from China.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who first came to office in 2016, has made modernising the armed forces and increasing defence spending a priority.

“The Chinese Communists have continued to invest heavily in national defence budgets, its military strength has grown rapidly, and it has frequently dispatched aircraft and ships to invade and harass our seas and airspace,” Taiwan’s defence ministry said in a statement last Thursday after a weekly cabinet meeting.

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