Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Wednesday that 19 Chinese J-10 fighters had flown into the southwestern corner of the island’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, though they remained closer to China’s coast than Taiwan’s, according to a map the ministry released of the air incursion.
The Taiwanese military monitored the situation and ordered the air force to scramble fighter planes, prepared to dispatch ships, and activated coastal missile defence systems in response, the ministry said.
Six other Chinese air force planes and three Chinese navy vessels were also detected operating near Taiwan on Wednesday, but they did not enter Taiwan’s ADIZ.
Taiwan – which China views as its own territory and has promised to bring back under Beijing’s control – has complained for years about China’s military activities near the island.
The Chinese aircraft on Wednesday entered the ADIZ but did not cross the more sensitive median line of the Taiwan Strait, which previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides.
Taiwan has responded to the extra pressure from China by upgrading its fleet of F-16 fighter jets and ordering 66 more of the planes from the US while buying a range of other weaponry and extending its mandatory term of military service for all males from four months to one year.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a visit to Beijing last month after the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the US east coast, drawing furious protests from China.
Wednesday’s incursions were also relatively modest by recent standards. During China’s National Day weekend in 2021, Beijing dispatched 149 military aircraft southwest of Taiwan in strike group formations
Democratically-elected Taiwan has repeatedly offered talks with China regarding the status of the island, but has also said it will defend itself if attacked, and that only the Taiwanese people can decide their future.