China flies TEN aircraft including fighter jets into Taiwan’s airspace ramping up tensions just a day after AUKUS pact was signed
- Taiwan said 10 Chinese aircraft including fighter jets entered its air space
- Taipei scrambled its fighters and activated missile defences to turn them back
- Chinese fighters quickly retreated but two other aircraft – an anti-submarine plane and a spy plane – made a circuit along the island’s south coast
- Comes after UK, US and Australia signed defence deal to counter Beijing
China has flown ten aircraft including fighter jets into Taiwan’s air space just a day after the UK, US and Australia signed a defence pact to push back against Beijing.
Taipei said two J-11 fighters, six J-16 fighters, one Y-8 anti-submarine plane and one Y-8 spy aircraft entered its air defence identification zone near Pratas Island today.
Fighter jets were scrambled to turn the aircraft back while radio warnings were also broadcast and missile defence systems activated to monitor the situation.
Taiwan scrambled fighter jets and activated its missile defences today to drive away what it said were ten Chinese aircraft that encroached into its airspace
Details of the flights published by Taiwan’s defence ministry show the Chinese fighters briefly skirted into the defence zone before turning back.
But the spy plane and anti-submarine aircraft made a longer route, flying several miles along Taiwan’s south coast before turning around and heading away.
The island’s government has complained for a year of repeated missions by China’s air force near its borders, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone close to Taiwan-controlled Pratas Island.
Self-governing Taiwan, which is home to the Republic of China which fought against the Communist Party when it first emerged, views itself as an independent state but Beijing views it as a breakaway province.
It has long-standing ties with the US, which historically recognised it as the legitimate government of China.
Tensions around the island have been mounting since President Xi Jinping vowed in 2019 to ‘reunify’ Taiwan with the Chinese mainland, using force if necessary.
The standoff entered a new phase on Thursday when Australia, the UK and US announced a new defence pact to share military technology that will include giving Australia its first fleet of nuclear submarines.
Beijing reacted angrily to the deal, denouncing the allies’ ‘Cold War mentality’ while warning it risks stability in the region and could make Australia the target of a nuclear strike.
Shortly after the alliance was announced, Australian defence minister Peter Dutton admitted that war with China is possible – with Taiwan likely to be the flashpoint.
The deal is about securing ‘peace’ in the region, Mr Dutton insisted, but added that the odds of a conflict with China ‘shouldn’t be discounted’.
‘The Chinese.. are very clear of their intent with regard to Taiwan [and] the United States has been very clear of their intention toward Taiwan,’ he said.
‘Nobody wants to see conflict but that really is a question for the Chinese.’
The incident came a day after Taiwan proposed extra defence spending of $9billion over the next five years, including on new missiles, warning of an urgent need to upgrade weapons in the face of a ‘severe threat’ from China.
Peter Dutton, Australia’s defence minister, warned that war with China is possible after signing joint defence deal with the UK and America
Speaking earlier on Friday, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government had to take the threat from China seriously.
‘The Chinese Communists plot against us constantly,’ he said.
Taiwan’s defence spending ‘is based on safeguarding national sovereignty, national security, and national security. We must not relax. We must have the best preparations so that no war will occur’, he added.
China’s government, for its part, criticised Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Friday for comments this week in which he said Taiwan was a ‘sea fortress’ blocking China’s expansion into the Pacific.
Wu’s ‘aim is to deceive public opinion, to rope in and collude with anti-China foreign forces’, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in statement.
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