Taiwan reports largest Chinese incursion since October; fighter jets scramble to warn away 39 aircrafts

WION Web Team
Taipei, Taiwan Updated: Jan 23, 2022, 09:57 PM(IST)

In this file photo, two Chinese fighter jets can be seen in Taiwan's air defence identification zone Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary and has been ratcheting up diplomatic pressure on the island to force it into political concessions

Taiwan on Sunday reported the largest Chinese incursion in its air defence zone since October. After the latest uptick in tensions, Taiwanese fighters scrambled to warn away 39 Chinese aircrafts. It also deployed missile systems to monitor them.

China regards democratic, self-ruled Taiwan as its own, to be retaken by force if necessary, and has long said its status is one of the most sensitive and important issues in Beijing's dealings with the United States.

“No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

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Bolstering the Taiwanese air force's ability to respond to what Washington and Taipei see as increasing intimidation by China's military, the US is looking for ways to potentially accelerate delivery of Taiwan's next generation of new-build F-16 fighter jets. The aircraft are currently slated to be delivered by the end of 2026.

The Block 70 aircraft are the newest F-16 configuration, with new avionics, a modernised cockpit and an improved engine, according to Lockheed Martin.

Since China marked its key patriotic holiday on October 1 last year called National Day, Taiwan has reported 148 Chinese air force planes in the southern and southwestern part of its air defence zone over a four-day period.

Also see | War scenario: Taiwan conducts air drills, urban warfare simulation amid China tensions

Taiwan calls China's repeated nearby military activities "grey zone" warfare, designed to both wear out Taiwan's forces by making them repeatedly scramble, and also to test Taiwan's responses.

"We must remind the Beijing authorities to not misjudge the situation and to prevent the internal expansion of 'military adventurism'," said Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the complete unification of "the motherland" was an aspiration shared by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan's air force in 2020 scrambled 2,972 times against Chinese aircraft at a cost of T$25.5 billion ($905 million).

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and the People’s Republic insists it is the sole legal representative of the island despite never having governed it.

(With inputs from agencies)
 

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