South China Sea: Taiwan scrambles jets following Chinese incursion into airspace
Taiwanese authorities were alerted this week following the incursion of Chinese jets into the island nation’s airspace. The latest incursion comes amidst simmering tensions between the island’s democratic government and Beijing.
According to Reuters, Taiwan announced Monday that Chinese jets made what appears to be its largest incursion into Taiwanese airspace. Taiwan’s defense ministry said that its air force scrambled to warn away 30 Chinese fighter jets.
China claims Taiwan as part of the mainland and has engaged in a pressure campaign on its democratic government to acknowledge Beijing through multiple incursions and nearby military drills.
Taipei has repeatedly complained of the incursions by the People’s Liberation Army and has referred to Beijing’s tactics as “gray zone warfare” that aims to wear out Taiwan’s defenses while testing the island nation’s responses.
The latest incursion included 22 fighters, electronic warfare, early warning, and antisubmarine aircraft, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry. The aircraft flew close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands, but far from Taiwan itself.
Taiwan responded by sending a combat aircraft to ward off the Chinese jets, while missile systems were dispatched to monitor them, according to the ministry. This marked the largest incursion since January 23, when 39 Chinese jets flew over its airspace.
Last week, China conducted a military exercise around the island nation as a warning against Taiwan’s “collusion” with the US, which has spoken out in favor of Taiwan.
The exercises followed comments by US President Joe Biden regarding the change in Washington’s policies regarding the island, saying that the US may get involved militarily if China invades Taiwan.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Tuesday that the US is planning on “cooperation” between the Taiwanese army and the US National Guard, indicating the strengthening of security ties between Taipei and Washington.
Upon meeting Democratic US Senator Tammy Duckworth in Taipei, Tsai said that Duckworth was one of the main sponsors of the Taiwan Partnership Act, which has received bipartisan support in the US Congress but has yet to be signed into law.
This follows previous reports by local media outlets that Taiwan would be partnering with Hawaii’s National Guard for the program.