Taiwan said 25 Chinese military planes crossed into its defence zone on Friday, the same day that Beijing marked the founding of the People’s Republic of China and its biggest incursion there in months.
The show of force on China’s National Day near the self-ruled democratic island, which Beijing claims as part of its territory, came in the same week it accused Britain of sending a warship to the Taiwan Strait with “evil intentions”.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said it scrambled its aircraft to broadcast warnings Friday after 22 Chinese fighters, two nuclear-capable bombers and one anti-submarine aircraft entered the island’s southwest Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).
China often sends military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence zone to display displeasure and last week it flew 24 planes into the zone after Taiwan applied to join a major trans-Pacific trade pact.
China’s authoritarian leaders have vowed to one day seize Taiwan, by force if necessary.
It has ramped up pressure on Taipei since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who views the island as “already independent”.
Last year, Chinese military jets made a record 380 incursions into Taiwan’s defence zone, and the number of incursions for the first nine months of this year has already exceeded 500.
The incursion on Friday was the biggest since 28 jets breached Taiwan’s ADIZ on June 15.
It came after Britain sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait on Monday for the first time since 2008, a move that challenged Beijing’s claim to the sensitive waterway and marked a rare voyage by a non-US military vessel.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command lashed out at the voyage, accusing Britain of acting out of “evil intentions to sabotage peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.
US warships regularly conduct “freedom of navigation” exercises in the waterway separating Taiwan and mainland China, triggering angry responses from Beijing.