Taiwan scrambles jets after 27 Chinese planes enter buffer zone

Taiwan scrambles jets after 27 Chinese planes enter buffer zone
Taiwanese Air Force personnel pass one of the upgraded F-16V fighter jets at a base in Chiayi, south-western Taiwan (Johnson Lai/AP)

Taiwan said 27 Chinese aircraft entered its air defence buffer zone on Sunday, the latest in a long series of incursions as part of Beijing’s pressure on the self-ruled island.

The Defence Ministry said Taiwan scrambled combat aircraft to “warn” the Chinese planes to leave. It also deployed missile systems to monitor them.

Sunday’s incursion included 18 fighter jets and five H-6 bombers, as well as a Y-20 aerial refuelling aircraft, according to Taiwan’s Defence Ministry.

The Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone near the southern part of the island and out into the Pacific Ocean before returning to China, according to Taiwan authorities.

Over the past year, the frequency of Chinese incursions has increased, with about 150 aircraft crossing into Taiwan’s buffer zone over a period of four days.

China’s incursion came as Chinese President Xi Jinping met with officers at a military conference, where he called for military talent cultivation to support and strengthen the armed forces, according to the state-owned news agency Xinhua.

President Xi said that talent was imperative in achieving victory in military competition and gaining the upper hand in future wars, according to Xinhua.

China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. It refuses to recognise the island’s government and has increasingly sought to isolate the independence-leaning administration of President Tsai Ing-wen.

Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, and Beijing opposes Taiwan’s involvement in international organisations.

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