Beijing sends 16 fighter jets towards Taiwan
- Sorties come a day after European Parliament group ends three-day visit to the island
- Taiwanese air force issues radio warnings and activates monitoring systems, defence ministry says
The People’s Liberation Army sent 16 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence zone on Saturday, Taipei said Sunday, a fresh high since the last wave of daily warplane sorties in early October.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence said 16 PLA aircraft – 10 J-16 fighter jets and six J-10 fighters – entered Taiwan’s southwestern air defence identification zone (ADIZ).
The island’s air force issued radio warnings and its air defence missile systems were activated to monitor the activity, the ministry said.
According to the ministry, the PLA conducted 150 warplane sorties into the ADIZ from October 1 to October 5. None were conducted over the next 10 days except for three sorties on October 10, Taiwan’s national day.
From October 16 to November 5, China continued with daily warplane sorties, with the exception of October 23, October 30 and November 3. During that time, the daily number of PLA aircraft seen in the zone peaked at eight.
Saturday’s sorties came a day after an official delegation sent by the European Parliament wrapped up a three-day visit to Taipei to learn of Taiwan’s experience of fighting disinformation.
Visiting European parliamentarians said on Friday that the trip to Taiwan was not a provocation as the decision was made based on the interests of European citizens.
Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, but Beijing considers the island part of its territory and opposes any form of official contact between Taiwan and others.
Tensions over Taiwan have continued to escalate with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last week confirming for the first time that the US troops were stationed on the island – even though, she said, their numbers were not as high as people thought.
The US also reaffirmed its “rock solid” commitment to Taiwan’s defence and pledged to support the island’s bid to take part in international organisations, moves strongly condemned by Beijing.
The Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing said on Friday that the mainland would punish “diehard” Taiwanese pro-independence advocates, banning them and their family members from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau.
Last year, Beijing said it was drawing up a blacklist of Taiwan separatists and their financial supporters.