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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Taiwan scrambles jets against renewed Chinese military activity

The island, claimed by China, has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by the Chinese air force near the self-ruled territory, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

By: Reuters | Taipei |
September 5, 2021 6:15:21 pm
A Taiwan-built fighter releases flares during a drill simulating China invading the island, in Pingtung county, southern Taiwan Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS)

Taiwan’s air force scrambled jets fighters on Sunday in response to renewed Chinese military activity, with its defense ministry reporting that 19 aircraft including nuclear-capable bombers had flown into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.

The island, claimed by China, has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by the Chinese air force near the self-ruled territory, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

The latest Chinese mission involved 10 J-16 and four Su-30 fighters, as well as four H-6 bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons, and an anti-submarine aircraft, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.

Taiwanese combat jets were dispatched to warn away the Chinese aircraft, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, the ministry said.

The Chinese aircraft flew in an area closer to the coast of China than that of Taiwan, roughly northeast of the Pratas, according to a map provided by Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.

There was no immediate comment from China.

The last such large-scale activity, on June 15, involved 28 Chinese aircraft, the largest incursion reported by Taiwan to date.

China often mounts such missions to express displeasure at something Taiwan has done or when there are shows of international support for the democratically ruled island, especially by the United States, Taiwan’s main arms provider.

It was not clear what might have prompted China to launch its aircraft this time, though a U.S. warship and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter sailed through the Taiwan Strait late last month.

China has described its activities as necessary to protect the country’s sovereignty and deal with “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.

Taiwan’s defense ministry warned last week that the threat from China was growing, saying China’s armed forces can “paralyze” Taiwan’s defenses and are able to fully monitor its deployments.

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