Seventy-one Chinese air force aircraft, including fighter planes and drones, breached Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in the past 24 hours, the island’s administration said on Monday.
This is China’s largest reported incursion to date, as Beijing keeps up its military exercises near the island it claims as its own.
Of the aircraft, 43 also crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line, an unofficial barrier between the two sides that is located within the defence zone, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said.
During the incursion, several Chinese planes, mostly fighter jets, briefly crossed the median line in the sensitive Taiwan Strait before returning to China. Seven Chinese navy ships were also detected near Taiwan, the ministry said.
China’s military also sent early warning, electronic-warfare and antisubmarine aircraft, as well as drones, into Taiwan’s southern air defence identification zone
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency said it was the largest Chinese air force incursion to date, although there was no sense of alarm on the island.
Home to TSMC, the largest contract chip manufacturer in the world, Taiwan has witnessed a steady increase in Chinese pressure in recent years.
That has raised concerns around the supply chain of semiconductors that power almost all advanced civilian and military technologies. TSMC accounts for more than 90% of the global output of these chips.
Several Taiwanese firms are also major suppliers to Apple, Qualcomm and other global tech companies.
Anger over new US defence bill
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, said it had conducted “strike drills” in the sea and airspace around Taiwan on Sunday in response to what it said was provocation from the democratically governed island and the United States.
Taiwan, which strongly rejects China’s sovereignty claims, said the drills showed Beijing was destroying regional peace and trying to intimidate Taiwan’s people.
A senior Taiwan official familiar with security planning in the region told Reuters that Taiwan assessed China had staged the military “provocation” to express anger at a new US defence authorisation law that boosts military assistance for Taiwan.
During the drills China’s air force dispatched warplanes from several locations across the country to carry out simulated attacks on Taiwanese and US warships, the official said.
Taiwan’s benchmark stock index brushed off the latest tensions, ending Monday up 0.1%. However, China’s CSI Defence Index marked its best day in two months on Monday, rising 3.7%.
China has stepped up its diplomatic, military and economic pressure in recent years on the self-governed island to accept Beijing’s rule. Taiwan’s government says it wants peace but will defend itself if attacked.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena