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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Chinese warplanes approach Taiwan’s coast in latest provocation

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Saturday that eight Chinese warplanes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and approached within 24 nautical miles (44.4 km) of the island’s coast, in a further escalation of tensions between the two sides.

The ministry said it detected 19 Chinese aircraft, including J-10 and J-16 fighters, flying near Taiwan’s airspace from around 8 a.m. (0000GMT). It said five Chinese warships also conducted “joint combat readiness patrols” in the area.

Taiwan defines its contiguous zone as the 24 nautical mile mark from its coast, while its territorial space is 12 nautical miles from the island’s coast. The ministry said it sent up its own aircraft and dispatched ships in response and activated land-based missile systems to monitor the situation.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has stepped up its military activities near the island in recent years. Since last August, it has regularly sent jets across the strait’s median line, which had previously served as an unofficial buffer zone.

Taiwan’s Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng warned in March that the island had to be on alert this year for a “sudden entry” by the Chinese military into areas close to its territory.

Taiwan is a self-ruled democracy that rejects Beijing’s claims and says only its people can decide their future. It has been seeking international support to counter China’s pressure and defend its sovereignty and democracy.

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