Ten Chinese aircraft cross Taiwan Strait median line, tensions rise

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1st April 2023 – (Taipei) Ten Chinese aircraft, comprising of nine fighter jets and one military drone, crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry. The median line is an unofficial barrier between Taiwan and China, and this breach has raised tensions between the two countries. Taiwan immediately sent aircraft to warn away the Chinese aircraft while missile systems monitored them.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, but the island strongly opposes this. In recent years, Taiwan has repeatedly complained about almost daily missions by the Chinese air force near the democratically governed island, particularly in the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone. The latest military activity by China near Taiwan comes at a time when Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is travelling in the Americas.

Beijing has warned of unspecified retaliation if President Tsai Ing-wen meets US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy on her way back to Taipei this month from Central America. Although there is no confirmation of the meeting, China has staged war games around Taiwan in the past after similar high-level visits.

However, a senior Taiwan official familiar with the island’s security planning told Reuters that China is unlikely to repeat such large exercises, but all preparations are made in case China reacts “irrationally”. China’s military activities near Taiwan have continued, although on a reduced scale, since the war games conducted in August.

Apart from the ten aircraft that crossed the median line on Saturday, nine Chinese aircraft also conducted combat readiness patrols on Friday, further escalating tensions between Taiwan and China. Taiwan’s defence ministry has strongly condemned this move, stating that it has deliberately created tension and undermined peace and stability.

In response to China’s military activities, Taiwan’s defence ministry has increased its surveillance and patrols in the area. Taiwan’s navy and air force are on high alert, and they are closely monitoring any further activities by China in the region.