TAIPEI (Dispatches) – Taiwan island’s “defense ministry” reported that Chinese military airplanes—including nuclear-capable bombers—flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone.
China claims Taiwan under its “one country, two systems” policy, but tensions have been high amid the autonomous island’s close cooperation with the U.S. to counter Beijing.
On Sunday, Taiwan’s air force scrambled against 19 Chinese military aircraft. Taiwan’s defense ministry said that the incursion included 10 J-16 and four Su-30 fighters. Additionally, China sent four H-6 bombers, which can transport nuclear weapons, as well as an anti-submarine aircraft.
Taiwan also readied its missile defense systems in case of an attack, the defense ministry said.
Last week, Taiwan’s defense ministry presented a stark picture of the Chinese military power in an annual report. It said that China could potentially “paralyze” Taiwan’s defense capabilities through “soft and hard electronic attacks.”
In June, China launched a similar mission involving 28 military planes. That marked the largest such operation by the Chinese of Taiwan’s air space reported to date. China routinely carries out smaller flyovers to retaliate against signs of U.S.-led meddling and support for Taiwan’s secession.
Although it’s unclear what specifically led to China’s new mission, it came after European lawmakers expressed support for Taiwan’s secessionist moves. Lithuania announced plans to deepen ties with Taiwan and open a diplomatic office there later this year. China responded with displeasure, demanding the European nation recall its ambassador. The Chinese government said it recalled its ambassador from Lithuania as well.
In response, 62 lawmakers in the European Parliament representing 20 countries signed a letter in support of Lithuania.
The Global Times, an English-language tabloid published by the Chinese Communist Party, published an opinion article slamming the European posturing on Taiwan.
“Lithuania is seeking to develop relations with Taiwan island in a way that breaks the one-China principle,” the article said. “But European side has in turn said China conducted ‘coercive’ diplomacy. This is clearly rogue political logic. Some Europeans cannot tell the right from the wrong. This is because they have put self-interest at their center.”
Last month, the U.S. military also sent a warship and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to sail through the Taiwan Strait in a fresh provocation in already tense relations with China.