TAIPEI (Dispatches) -- The guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, the U.S. Navy said, as China sent more fighter jets into Taiwan’s so-called air defense zone and a Chinese carrier group drilled near Taiwan.
The island said 15 Chinese aircraft including 12 fighters entered the zone, with an anti-submarine aircraft flying to the south through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Taiwan’s air force sent up aircraft to intercept and warn the Chinese away, it added.
China has said its activities around Taiwan are aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty.
Adding to the tensions, the U.S. Navy said the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain conducted a "routine” transit of the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday.
On Monday, China said an aircraft carrier group was exercising close to the island.
Neither side has said precisely where the Chinese carrier group is, or whether it is heading towards the South China Sea, where a U.S. carrier group is currently operating.
A person familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters the carrier group is still "near the Japanese islands”, though declined to disclose the exact location.
Japan had said on Sunday that the Chinese carrier group had entered the Pacific after sailing through the Miyako Strait, through Japan’s southern Ryukyu island chain northeast of Taiwan.
Washington, Taiwan’s arms supplier, has been pushing Taipei to modernize its military so it can become a "porcupine”, hard for China to attack.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it will run eight days of computer-aided war games this month, simulating a Chinese attack. A second phase of exercises, including live-fire drills and anti-landing drills, will take place in July, when hospitals would also practice handling mass casualties.
Asked if Washington’s de facto embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan, would send representatives to the drills, Major General Liu Yu-Ping said such a plan was "discussed” but "will not be implemented”, citing military sensitivity.
The American military is claiming that China is probably accelerating its timetable for capturing control of Taiwan.