The US accused China of “provocative military activity” on Sunday after it flew dozens of military planes in Taiwan’s airspace.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense tweeted that 16 fighter jets entered its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday. This came after 39 military aircraft – 20 during the day and 19 more at night – entered its airspace on Saturday.
This followed the invasion of 38 Chinese planes Friday, which Taiwan said were the largest Chinese military aircraft to date. The activities on Friday took place as part of the celebrations for the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Sunday that the United States was “very concerned” about China’s “provocative military activity near Taiwan.” He added that it is “destabilizing, risking misjudgments and undermining peace and stability in the region”.
“We call on Beijing to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan,” he said.
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China has been sending military planes to the south of Taiwan area on a regular basis for more than a year to increase military and political pressure.
ADIZ is the type of airspace that many countries define around their territories to monitor air traffic, but is not recognized under international law.
Beijing regards Taiwan as an illegitimate breakaway province that is part of its territory. When the civil war between communists and nationalists ended with the triumph of the former in 1949, the latter formed a rival government in Taipei.
The increased flight activity is against the background of strained relations between Washington and Beijing. The world’s two largest economies were deeply at odds on a number of issues including cybersecurity, human rights, and trade.
Price said US engagement with Taiwan is “rock solid” and Washington will continue to support Taipei in “maintaining adequate self-defense capabilities.”
There was no comment from Beijing to send the jets to Taiwan, but the Global Times, a state newspaper and website, reported the incursion on Friday.
Beijing previously said such flights protect the country’s sovereignty and go against “collusion” between Taipei and foreign forces.