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China’s second largest jets incursion hits Taiwan


TAIWAN – China launched 39 warplanes, mostly fighter jets, into Taiwan’s air defense zone on Sunday, according to the island’s government, in the second-largest daily intrusion on record.

Taiwan is constantly threatened by invasion of China, which sees the self-governed, democratic island as part of its territory to be regained, by force if necessary.

The fourth quarter of 2021 saw a major increase in Chinese intrusions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), with the largest single-day incursion being on October 4, when 56 Chinese airplanes entered the zone.

The island’s defense ministry reported late Sunday that 39 Chinese warplanes had entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), the second-highest number of incursions on record, which it shares with October 2 of last year.

It further stated that on Sunday, it dispatched its own aircraft to broadcast warnings and deployed air defense missile systems to track the jets that entered its zone.

The warplanes comprised 24 J-16 fighters, which experts believe are among China’s preferred aircraft for testing Taiwan’s air defenses, ten J-10 fighters, and one nuclear-capable H-6 bomber.

It’s unknown why China launched such a massive operation in a single day.

However, the incursions come on the heels of the United States and Japan conducting naval drills in the Philippine Sea, which encompasses areas just east of the Taiwan.

Ten US Navy ships, including the aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln, took part in exercises with Japan from January 17 to 22, “for effective deterrence and response,” according to a tweet from Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force on Monday.

Taiwan only began regularly disclosing data on air intrusions in September 2020.

October is still the busiest month on record, with 196 invasions, 149 of which occurred in just four days as Beijing celebrated its annual National Day.

The defense zone differs from Taiwan’s territorial airspace in that it encompasses a much larger area that overlaps with a portion of China’s own ADIZ.

Since Tsai Ing-wen won the election as president in 2016, Beijing has increased pressure on Taiwan, claiming that the island is a sovereign entity separate from “one China.”

According to an AFP database, Taiwan documented 969 intrusions by Chinese jets into the ADIZ last year, more than double the roughly 380 carried out in 2020.

Taiwan’s air force has experienced a succession of tragic incidents in recent years, as China maintains steady pressure on its aging fleet.

The air force temporarily grounded all F-16 fighters earlier this month after one of its most advanced F-16V jets crashed into the sea during a routine training mission, killing one pilot.

This article contains materials from Agence France-Presse

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