TAIPEI: Taiwan reported a resumption of Chinese military activities around the island on Sunday (Nov 19), with nine aircraft crossing the sensitive midline of the Taiwan Strait and warships carrying out “combat readiness patrols”.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has complained for four years about regular Chinese patrols and military exercises near the island, as Beijing seeks to pressure Taipei over its sovereignty claims.
With Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco last week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, where he met with US President Joe Biden, the scale of this military activity around Taiwan has diminished. .
But Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it detected nine Chinese planes crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Sunday morning, which previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two and which Chinese planes now regularly fly over.
The aircraft involved included Su-30 and J-10 fighters, as well as early warning and electronic warfare aircraft, the ministry said.
The planes accompanied Chinese warships carrying out “joint combat readiness patrols”, he added.
Taiwan sent its own forces to monitor, the ministry said.
China’s Defense Ministry did not respond to calls seeking comment. China says its activities near Taiwan are aimed at “collusion” between Taiwanese separatists and the United States and to protect China’s territorial integrity.
The Taiwanese government, which has repeatedly proposed negotiations with China, rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s people can decide its future.
Taiwan was at the center of the Biden-Xi negotiations in San Francisco.
Xi told Biden during their four-hour meeting on Wednesday that Taiwan was the most important and dangerous issue in U.S.-China relations, according to a senior U.S. official.
Taiwan holds presidential and parliamentary elections on January 13, with the island’s strained relations with China a major topic in the election campaign.
Over the past year and a half, China has held two large-scale war exercises around Taiwan, although the Chinese air force has not flown over the island or entered its territorial airspace.