30 Chinese planes have entered Taiwan’s so-called defense airspace. The Ministry of Defense in Taipei announced on Monday evening that more than 20 fighter jets were among them. The Taiwanese armed forces reportedly mobilized aircraft and anti-aircraft systems to monitor the activities of the Chinese planes.
It was the second largest operation by Chinese aircraft in Taiwan’s defense airspace this year. On January 23, 39 aircraft had entered this zone.
The defense airspace is not identical to Taiwan’s territorial airspace, but is significantly larger. It partially overlaps with China’s own defense airspace and even extends over some areas of mainland China.
Beijing regularly sends planes into Taiwan’s defensive airspace to bolster its claim to the island and pressure the Taiwan Air Force. Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that is to be reunited with the mainland – if necessary using military force.
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Last week, the United States accused China of fueling tensions over Taiwan. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited the incursion of Chinese planes into Taiwan’s defense airspace as an example of “increasingly provocative” activity.
However, US President Joe Biden also reiterated that he is sticking to the policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the Taiwan issue. This long-held course means that while the United States pledges to help Taiwan build up its defense capabilities, it makes no explicit promise to come to its aid in the event of war.
At the beginning of last week, Biden had raised doubts that the US would continue to pursue the policy of “strategic ambiguity”. When asked by a journalist whether the US could “participate militarily to defend Taiwan” – unlike in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine – the US President replied “yes”.
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