Taipei, Taiwan – More than 100 Chinese warplanes and nine navy ships were detected around Taiwan, authorities in Taipei said Monday, describing the number as a “recent high”.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary, and has ramped up diplomatic and military pressure in recent years as relations have soured.
“Between the morning of September 17th to 18th, the Ministry of National Defence had detected a total of 103 Chinese aircraft which was a recent high and has posed severe challenges to the security across the Taiwan Strait and in the region,” it said in a statement.
Beijing’s “continued military harassment can easily lead to a sharp spike in tension and worsen regional security,” the ministry said, as it called on China to “immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions.”
Of the total number of warplanes detected, 40 crossed the so-called median line of the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China, and entered its southwest and southeast air defence identification zone (ADIZ), the statement said.
– ‘High alert’ –
Last week, Taipei also reported an increased number of incursions by Chinese warplanes and ships, after Beijing said its troops were on “high alert” following two ships belonging to the United States and Canada transiting through the Taiwan Strait this month.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said 68 Chinese aircraft and 10 naval vessels were detected around the island between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning.
Some of those planes and warships were heading to an unspecified area of the Western Pacific to “conduct joint sea and air training” with China’s Shandong aircraft carrier, the ministry said.
The Shandong, one of two operational aircraft carriers in the Chinese fleet, was detected last week around 60 nautical miles (110 kilometres) southeast of Taiwan heading into the Western Pacific, Taipei authorities said.
Japan’s defence ministry also said last week its navy had detected six ships — including frigates, destroyers, one fast combat support ship and the Shandong — sailing through waters some 650 kilometres (400 miles) south of Miyakojima island, east of Taiwan.
It also confirmed that jets and helicopters had been detected taking off and landing from the Shandong.
China has not commented officially on any drills being conducted in the Western Pacific.
In April, Beijing conducted military exercises to simulate the encirclement of the island, after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.