66 Chinese aircraft surround Taiwan in biggest sortie of year

by Admin
66 Chinese aircraft surround Taiwan in biggest sortie of year

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Thursday (Jul 11) it had detected 66 Chinese military aircraft around the island in a 24-hour window, a record-high this year, a day after it said Beijing was conducting exercises in nearby waters.

China – which maintains a near-daily military presence around Taiwan – claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory and has said it will never renounce the use of force to bring it under its control.

Thursday’s record comes a day after Taipei spotted Chinese aircraft around the island that it said were headed to the western Pacific for exercises with the PLA aircraft carrier Shandong.

“66 PLA aircraft and seven PLAN vessels operating around Taiwan were detected up until 6am today,” the defence ministry said in Thursday’s statement, adding it has “responded accordingly”.

Fifty-six of the Chinese aircraft crossed the sensitive median line bisecting the Taiwan Strait – a narrow 180km waterway separating the island from China.

An illustration it released showed some of the aircraft came within 61km of Taiwan’s southern tip.

The year’s previous record was in May, when Beijing sent 62 military aircraft and 27 naval vessels around Taiwan.

That occurred in the middle of war games Beijing launched on the heels of the inauguration of Taiwan President Lai Ching-te, who Beijing regards as a “dangerous separatist”.

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