Tensions rise as China sends fighter jets after US transport plane flies over Taiwan
China dispatched fighter aircraft across the Taiwan Strait hours after an US transport plane flew over the island of Taiwan on Tuesday, raising military and diplomatic tension in the region by several notches.
Taipei scrambled its own jets in response to warn off the aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, reports from the island said quoting the defence ministry.
The Russia-made Su-30 fighters were given verbal warnings to leave and Taiwanese air force jets “drove away” the intruders, the Taiwanese defence ministry added.
“The military detected multiple numbers of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets flying southwest into Taiwan briefly this morning,” the Taiwanese defence ministry said, adding the air force immediately scrambled jets to shadow, intercept and disperse them through radio warnings.
“The military has full surveillance and control of all activities in the sea and air that surround Taiwan, and the public can rest assured of our capability to uphold security for our national territory,” the ministry statement added.
Earlier in the morning, an US C-40 military transport aircraft was identified flying over the west coastline of Taiwan.
It had taken off from an airforce base in Okinawa in Japan and flew over Taiwan without landing.
In Beijing, there was no official statement on the rapid developments of the day over the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing claims the self-governing democracy of Taiwan as a breakaway region and has never renounced the use of force to reunify the island.
Tension has been simmering between China, Taiwan and the US in the region, most recently after Washington struck a deal to sell torpedoes to Taipei.
Chinese state media reported last week that PLA has held frequent and intensive amphibious landing and naval drills in what analysts said are sending warnings to “Taiwan secessionists”.
In one training operation, the PLA 74th Group Army used a large civilian cargo ship to transport more than 50 tanks, armored vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles across the sea, according to a report by national broadcaster, Chinese Central Television.