China’s military sent 71 planes and seven ships toward Taiwan in a 24-hour display of force directed at the island, Taiwan’s defense ministry said, after China expressed anger at Taiwan-related provisions in a US annual defense spending bill passed on Saturday.
China’s military harassment of self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims to own, has intensified in recent years, and the Communist party’s People’s Liberation Army has sent planes or ships toward the island on a near-daily basis.
Between 6am Sunday and 6am Monday, 47 of the Chinese planes crossed the median of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary once tacitly accepted by both sides, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.
Among the planes were 18 J-16 fighter jets, 11 J-1 fighters, six Su-30 fighters and drones.
Taiwan said it monitored the Chinese moves using its land-based missile systems and navy vessels.
“This is a firm response to the current US-Taiwan escalation and provocation,” said Shi Yi, spokesperson for the Chinese army’s eastern theatre command, which announced joint combat patrols and strike drills in the waters around Taiwan.
Shi was referring to the US defence spending bill, which calls China a strategic challenge. With regard to the Indo-Pacific region, the legislation authorises increased security cooperation with Taiwan and requires expanded cooperation with India on emerging defence technologies, readiness and logistics.
China’s military has often used large military exercises as a demonstration of force in response to US government actions in support of Taiwan. It conducted large live-fire military exercises in August in response to US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Beijing views visits from foreign governments to the island as de facto recognition of the island as independent and a challenge to China’s claim of sovereignty.