Taiwan scrambles jets as China’s air force holds drill


Taiwan sent aircraft on Monday to shadow China air force fighter jets as they flew through the Bashi Channel to the south of the island, its defense ministry said, the latest such incident to add to tension between Taipei and Beijing.

China sent an unspecified number of Xian H-6 bombers, Su-30 fighter jets and Y-8 transport aircraft over the waterway on their way to the West Pacific Ocean, the Taiwan ministry said.

They were followed by Taiwan jets until the mainland aircraft returned to base, it said in a statement.

Taiwan on March 21 sent ships and aircraft to shadow a Chinese aircraft carrier group that sailed through the narrow Taiwan Straight.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint.

The Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the self-governed island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism.

China claims Taiwan as its own and considers the island a breakaway province. Xi said last week Taiwan would face the “punishment of history” for any attempt at separatism.

Taiwan says China has ramped up military exercises around the island in the past year or so.

While China insists it has no hostile intent, its activities around Taiwan, and in the busy South China Sea waterway, have touched a nerve in the region and in the United States.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Wong angered Beijing during a recent visit to Taiwan by saying the U.S. commitment to the island had never been stronger.

Beijing is already furious about a law signed two weeks ago by U.S. President Donald Trump that encourages the United States to send senior officials to Taiwan to meet counterparts and vice versa.


Zainab Sa’id