TAIPEI (Reuters) – Ten Chinese air force aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence zone on Wednesday accompanying five Chinese warships engaged in “combat readiness” patrols, the island’s defence ministry said, the second such incursion this week.
Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, has repeatedly complained of Chinese military activity near it over the past three years, as Beijing steps up pressure to try to force the island to accept its sovereignty.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said that starting at around 9 a.m. (0100 GMT), it detected a total of 25 Chinese aircraft engaging in operations out at sea, including J-10 and J-16 fighters, as well as H-6 bombers.
Of those aircraft, the ministry said 10 had either crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides, or entered the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ.
Those aircraft were acting in coordination with five Chinese warships engaging in “combat readiness” patrols, it said.
Taiwan’s military dispatched ships and aircraft to keep watch, the ministry said.
The ADIZ is a broad area Taiwan monitors and patrols to give its forces more time to respond to threats, and Chinese aircraft have not entered territorial Taiwanese air space.
On Sunday, Taiwan reported a similar level of activity by Chinese warplanes and warships near the island.
China staged war games around Taiwan in April after President Tsai Ing-wen returned home from a visit to the United States where she met U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Last August, it also held war games around Taiwan to protest against a trip to Taipei by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Taiwan Vice President William Lai leaves for the United States this week on his way to Paraguay on what is officially only a transit but which has angered China.
It was China’s “priority” to stop Lai from visiting the United States, Beijing’s ambassador to the U.S. said last month.
Taiwan’s democratically elected government rejects China’s sovereignty claim and says only the island’s people can decide their future.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard)