The Taiwan government announced that a record number of 25 Chinese military aircraft penetrated the island’s defense area on Monday, a day after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued a warning to China.
The Taiwan Ministry of Defense quickly issued a warning and requested the departure of Chinese aircraft, including 18 fighters, as they entered the air defense zone in the southwest of the island for the tenth consecutive day this month.
The breakthrough, the biggest in a year, came the day after the US Secretary of State warned an “increasingly aggressive” China against trying to change the status quo in Taiwan, saying that this would be a “grave mistake.”
China considers that Taiwan, which is governed by a democratic system, part of its territory will unite with it someday, by force if necessary.
Blinken’s comments came a day after the US State’s announcement that it intends to “facilitate” contacts between US and Taiwan officials, thus defying Chinese pressure in the midst of the tension between the two superpowers.
The dispute between Beijing and Taipei has escalated since the arrival of President Tsai Ing-wen, who rejects the idea that the island is part of “one China”.
US analysts and military officials have warned that tensions between Taiwan and China are now at their highest levels since the mid-1990s.
“What we have seen, and what really worries us, is the increasing aggressive actions of the Beijing government towards Taiwan, which exacerbates the tension in the (Taiwan) Strait,” Blinken said in a statement to the “Meet the Press” program on the American “NBC” network.
He added that the United States has a long-standing commitment to the island “to ensure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself, and to ensure that we maintain peace and security in the Western Pacific.”
Blinken did not clarify whether the United States would respond militarily to any Chinese move that affects Taiwan.
But he continued, “All I can tell you is that it would be a grave mistake for any party to try to change the status quo by force.”
Taiwan’s aging fighter fleet has suffered a series of bloody accidents in recent years, as its air force faces constant pressure from China.
And last year, Chinese aircraft made a record number of 380 incursions into the Taiwan air defense limitation zone, according to Taipei authorities.