Taiwan scrambles military jets after 27 Chinese warplanes enter air defence zone

3 August 2022, 08:37 | Updated: 3 August 2022, 16:55

Chinese officials shared images from social media site Weibo of the Chinese military drills
Chinese officials shared images from social media site Weibo of the Chinese military drills. Picture: Social Media

By Asher McShane

Taiwan scrambled their military jets on Wednesday after 27 Chinese warplanes entered their air defence zone.

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Taiwan's defence ministry said in a statement that the warplanes, including six Shenyang J-11 fighters and 16 Sukhoi Su-30s, has crossed the median line did not fly too far into the unofficial buffer.

China has carried out mass military drills around Taiwan in a show of might as tensions escalated after US house speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island.

Taiwan, which also carried out land, sea, and air military drills at the end of last month, said the Chinese military exercises encroached on its territory.

After the visit Ms Pelosi and other members of Congress visiting Taiwan said they will not abandon their commitment to choosing between "democracy and autocracy"

"Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy," she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.

"America's determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad."

On Wednesday Foreign Secretary Liz Truss criticised China's "inflammatory" response to a senior US politician's visit to Taiwan.

Ms Truss, speaking on a Conservative Party leadership campaign visit in Ludlow, Shropshire, said: "I do not support China's inflammatory language on this issue.

"It's perfectly reasonable what is taking place and I urge China to de-escalate."

In June, Ms Truss called on Western allies to provide greater support for Taiwan so it can defend itself in the event of an attack from China.

Ms Truss, when asked if this meant providing arms, replied at the time: "There are different ways of doing that, and Finland and Sweden have joined Nato as a way of making sure that they are defended.

"Ultimately, it is making sure that those countries have the capabilities that they need."

The Chinese government issued a statement this morning. A Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman said: "China firmly opposes separatist moves toward “Taiwan independence” and interference by external forces, and never allows any room for “Taiwan independence” forces in whatever form."

China’s UK ambassador has urged British MPs not to follow the US in trying to visit Taiwan.

A missile is fired from ROCS Chi Kuang as part of Taiwan's main annual "Han Kuang" exercises on July 26
A missile is fired from ROCS Chi Kuang as part of Taiwan's main annual "Han Kuang" exercises on July 26. Picture: Alamy

Zheng Zeguang said any talk of ‘helping Taiwan to defend itself’ or a plan for MPs to visit Taiwan would ‘constitute serious violations of the one-China principle’

Zhang Meifang, Consul General of China in Belfast tweeted: “In Wed the PLA Eastern Theater Command organized joint drills featuring Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, Strategic Support Force & Joint Logistic Support Force in the sea and air space N, SW & SE of Taiwan island.”

China claims Taiwan as its territory and is strongly opposed to any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments.

Multiple military exercises took place around the island and China issued a series of harsh statements after the delegation touched down in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, on Tuesday night.

Ms Pelosi's trip has heightened US-China tensions more than visits by other members of Congress because of her high-level position as leader of the House of Representatives.

She is the first speaker of the house to come to Taiwan in 25 years, since Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Ms Tsai, thanking Ms Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan, presented the speaker with a civilian honour, the Order of the Propitious Clouds. She was more pointed about Chinese threats in her remarks than Ms Pelosi was.

"Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down," Ms Tsai said. "We will firmly uphold our nation's sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defence for democracy."

Shortly after Ms Pelosi landed, China announced live-fire drills that would start on Tuesday night and a four-day exercise beginning on Thursday in waters on all sides of the island.

China's air force also flew a relatively large contingent of 21 war planes, including fighter jets, toward Taiwan.

Ms Pelosi is visiting a human rights museum in Taipei later on Wednesday before she departs for South Korea, the next stop on an Asia tour that also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.