The Taiwanese air force was scrambled on Friday, amid reports of Chinese military aircraft entering the country’s air defense zone near Taipei-controlled Pratas Island. The contingent included more than a dozen J-16 jets, four Su-30 fighters, two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, and an anti-submarine aircraft, according to the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense.
The ministry said it had issued radio warnings to the Chinese aircraft and air defense systems were deployed to monitor their activity. It issued a map showing the fleet close to Pratas Island – an atoll under Taiwanese control. China has not commented on the reports.
Taiwan has increasingly complained of incursions by the Chinese air force, with the largest such incident, involving 28 military aircraft, reported in June.
The Chinese government claims that the island of Taiwan is an inseparable part of its territory, and refuses to recognize Taipei’s autonomous rule. The Taiwanese government’s reports of Chinese jets encroaching on its air space comes as China celebrates National Day on the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the PRC.
Just a day earlier, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office had issued scathing criticism of Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, an outspoken nationalist opposed to Chinese territorial claims. It accused Wu of being a “diehard” supporter of independence who spread “lies” concerning the island’s sovereignty.