Several Chinese planes and naval vessels approached Taiwan early Saturday morning, prompting Taiwan’s defense ministry to launch fighter jets and prepare its missile defense system, officials said.
The Taiwanese government’s Defense Ministry, officially identified as the Republic of China, said its forces spotted over a dozen Chinese military vehicles near its island around 6 a.m. Saturday.
“11 PLA aircraft and 3 PLAN ships were spotted in Taiwan at 6 a.m. today,” the government said, urging officials to dispatch their own naval vessels and land-based missile systems “to respond to these activities.”
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is China’s official designation for the armed forces, including the naval forces (PLAN), controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
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The sighting comes as Taiwan previously reported on Thursday 22/11 and again on Wednesday 21/12.
“[Nine] PLA aircraft and 3 PLAN ships around Taiwan were spotted at 6am (UTC+8) today. The ROC Armed Forces have been monitoring the situation and tasked CAP aircraft, naval vessels and land-based missile systems to respond to these activities,” the government said.
The Taiwan Ministry of Defense added, “Two of the detected aircraft (BZK-005 UAV RECCE and Y-8 ASW) had entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ, flight paths as shown.”
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Wednesday’s sighting was the largest, with Taiwan reporting seeing 39 Chinese planes and three naval vessels around the island. The incident also prompted an immediate response from the Taiwanese military.
Of the planes detected, 30 crossed the Taiwan Strait centerline and entered Taiwan’s southwestern and southeastern Air Defense Identification Zones.
The Taipei Ministry of Defense also provided flight routes for the Chinese military ships, including identification of the aircraft.
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Taiwan did not disclose how many aircraft it dispatched to respond to these encounters. It has also vowed to defend itself against a possible military invasion through mainland China.
China’s mainland often aligns its military with Taiwan, which it recognizes as part of its own sovereign territory, but has become noticeably more aggressive in recent months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visited in early August.
Taiwan has its own democratic governing body and strikes international trade deals with several countries that would otherwise choose not to trade with communist-controlled mainland China.
While there is a risk that China may launch a military invasion of Taiwan, the Biden administration has maintained a “strategic ambiguity” on the island.
The US military will defend Taiwan “if it comes to that,” says BIDEN
As recently as September, President Biden publicly stated that the United States would interfere in such an invasion and would order US troops to defend Taiwan. This is not the official US stance and the White House corrected its comments.
Biden also met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and said in November he did not believe there was an imminent attempt by China to invade Taiwan.
The US President also dismissed speculation that a new Cold War was developing with China.
“I absolutely believe there is no need for a new Cold War,” Biden said. “I have met with Xi Jinping many times and we have been open and clear with each other throughout. And I don’t think there is any imminent attempt by China to invade Taiwan.”
The US does not have a defense treaty with Taiwan, but it provides arms to the island through grants and loans.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that the US sent Taiwan a $425 million arms package earlier this month.
“This was a package of upgrades to existing offerings,” she said on 9/12. “We continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense in line with our long-standing One China policy. So no change.”
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The US and most of the international community officially recognize the one-China policy, which denies Taiwan statehood and claims Beijing has sole authority to govern the island.
China’s current stance on Taiwan comes against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s eastern regions, which the Russian government has annexed and is also claiming its Russian territory.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom and Paul Best contributed to this report.