According to the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense, the Chinese military has sent 71 aircraft and seven ships to Taiwan. This is the biggest daily incursion so far, as Beijing protested against “secret collusion and provocations” by the self-governing island and the United States.
In a statement on Monday, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said that 47 of the Chinese aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait midline during the 24-hour show of force, an unofficial border that was once tacitly accepted by both sides.
The Chinese aircraft included 18 J-16 fighter jets, 11 J-1 fighters, six Su-30 fighters and drones.
The Ministry of Defense said it had monitored Chinese movements with its land-based missile systems as well as with its own naval vessels.
47 of the discovered aircraft (J-11*12, SU-30*6, CH-4 UCAV RECCE*1, J-10*6, J-16*18, Y-8 EW*1, Y-8 ASW*1, KJ-500*1, WZ-7 UAV RECCE*1) had crossed the Taiwan Strait centerline and entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ, as shown.
— Department of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) December 26, 2022
China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, said on Sunday that it had carried out “joint combat readiness patrols and joint firearms exercises” in the sea and airspace around the self-governing island.
The People’s Liberation Army said the exercises were a “decisive response to the current escalation and provocation between the USA and Taiwan.”
The nature of the alleged provocations was not specified, but Beijing was annoyed by the provisions affecting Taiwan in a recently passed US defense spending bill.
The $858 billion bill signed by US President Joe Biden on Friday approves increased security cooperation with Taiwan and requires expanded cooperation with India on new defense technologies, operational readiness, and logistics.
China rejects US support for Taiwan, an island of 23 million people off its east coast that seceded from the mainland during the civil war that brought the Communist Party to power in Beijing in 1949. The US has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is the island’s most important international supporter and arms supplier.
At a military ceremony on Monday morning, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen reaffirmed the need for Taiwan to increase its defense capacity due to the “continuous expansion of authoritarianism,” although she did not mention recent military activity.
“The more preparations we make, the less likely it is that there will be hasty attempts at aggression. The more united we are, the stronger and safer Taiwan would become,” Tsai told the assembled officers.
US arms sales to Taiwan are a constant nuisance in Beijing’s relations with Washington.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday that it “regrets and firmly rejects defense cooperation between the US and Taiwan,” and that Washington’s defense bill “seriously affects peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
The Chinese military has often carried out large military exercises as a show of force in response to measures taken by the US government to support Taiwan.
In response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, she carried out extensive military exercises with live ammunition.
Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to take control of Taiwan, regards visits by foreign governments to the island as de facto recognition of the island as an independent island and as a challenge to China’s claim to sovereignty.
Taiwan firmly denies China’s claims of sovereignty and declares that only its people can decide its future.