Chinese military planes cross median line of Taiwan Strait

Author : Mircea Birca | Friday, February 14, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia
Comments Off on Chinese military planes cross median line of Taiwan Strait

Taipei, Feb. 10 (CNA) Chinese military aircraft crossed over the median line of the Taiwan Strait and into Taiwan’s airspace on Monday for the first time in nearly a year, as Beijing continued military maneuvers near Taiwan for a second straight day.

In a statement issued Monday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) identified the Chinese military aircraft as “a certain number of H-6 bombers and escorting planes.”

They flew over the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan and into the Western Pacific Ocean around 10 a.m., before returning to their bases via the same route as part of a long-distance training session, the MND said.

The escorting planes briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line and entered Taiwan’s airspace as they flew near the country, but later retreated to the western side of the line after Taiwanese military aircraft, including F-16 fighters, issued multiple radio warnings, the MND said.

The last time Chinese military aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait median line was when two Chinese J-11 fighters did so on March 31, 2019, according to the MND.

The MND statement was released after Taiwan media reported that a number of Chinese military planes carried out a long-distance flight mission near Taiwan earlier in the day, flying close to the island’s southern coast and into the Western Pacific.

It was the second day in a row that Chinese military aircraft were observed flying on a similar path.

On Sunday, Chinese J-11 jet fighters, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and H-6 bombers flew over the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan and into the Western Pacific Ocean, before returning to their bases via the Miyako Strait northeast of Taiwan, according to the MND.

Taiwan’s Air Force responded by scrambling its missile-equipped F-16 jets and mobilizing other surveillance and air defense assets, the MND said.

A report carried in China’s jingoistic Global Times later confirmed the Sunday drill, quoting Zhang Chunhui (張春暉), a spokesperson of the People’s Liberation Army of the China Eastern Theater Command.

China’s military has the resolve and the ability to quell any attempts by Taiwan to separate from China, Zhang said, while reiterating Beijing’s stance that Taiwan and its adjacent islands are “inalienable parts of China,” the report said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the country’s top policymaking body on China affairs, issued a protest to China on Monday over Chinese military aircraft’s “provocative” maneuvers near the Taiwan Strait for a second consecutive day.

The repeated “acts of provocation” by Chinese military aircraft and vessels near the Taiwan Strait in recent years have changed the cross-strait status quo and elevated regional tensions, the MAC said in a statement.

MAC urged Beijing to stop playing the nationalism card and work more closely with Taipei as both sides of the Taiwan Strait combat the novel coronavirus epidemic that has gripped China and shaken the world.

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