Twenty Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Friday, a day after Taipei and Washington signed an accord to strengthen maritime cooperation.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft involved in the mission were 10 J-16 multirole fighters, two J-10 multirole fighters, four H-6K bombers, two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes, one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control plane and one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance plane, Focus Taiwan reported citing Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence (MND).
The Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes and the H-6K bombers almost took a half-circle in airspace near southern Taiwan while the others operated in the airspace between Taiwan and the Taiwanese-controlled Dongsha Islands, a chart provided by the MND showed.
Air defence identification zones are early warning systems that help countries to detect incursions into their airspace. Any aircraft entering such an area is supposed to report its route and purpose to the "host" nation, though the zones are classified as international airspace and pilots are not legally bound to make such a notification.
According to Focus Taiwan, Friday's show of force was the biggest in terms of the number of planes deployed since the MND began to make public PLA aircraft's movements near Taiwan in mid-September.
It came after Taiwan and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a Coast Guard Working Group (CGWG) in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
The last time Taiwan saw a large number of PLA planes entering its ADIZ zone was on February 19 (nine planes), when two US lawmakers reintroduced a bill in the Senate and the House to deter Beijing from using force against Taiwan, and on the following day (11 planes).
China has threatened that "Taiwan's independence" means war.
Wu Qian, spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defence, on January 28 "warned" the people wanting "Taiwan independence" and had said that "those who play with fire will set themselves on fire, and seeking 'Taiwan independence' means nothing but war".
According to an article by The Global Times, a Chinese state media, Taiwan's "mainland affairs council" has warned that any of the mainland's words and deeds that deliberately provoke Taiwan's bottom line may cause far-reaching effects that the mainland cannot bear.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.
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