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Chinese bombers, jets ‘breach’ Taiwan’s air defence zone

BEIJING (Reuters): Eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets have entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, and Taiwan’s air force deployed missiles to “monitor” the “incursion,” the island’s Defence Ministry said.

“Airborne alert sorties had been tasked, radio warnings issued and air defence missile systems deployed to monitor the activity,” it said in a brief statement on Saturday.

There was no immediate comment from China.

Beijing flies nuclear bombers, J-16 fighter jets

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has conducted almost daily flights over the waters between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea in recent months.

However, they have generally consisted of just one or two reconnaissance aircraft.

The presence of so many Chinese combat aircraft on this mission, Taiwan said it was made up of eight nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and four J-16 fighter jets – is unusual.

A map provided by Taiwan showed that the Chinese aircraft, which also included a Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, flew over the same waters where the mo-st recent Chinese missions have been taking place near the Pratas Islands, though still well away from mainland Taiwan.

Taiwan’s air force warned away the Chinese aircraft and deployed missiles to monitor them, the ministry added, using standard wording for how it responds to such activities.

US support to Taiwan

In past, China has said it has been carrying out exercises to defend the country’s sovereignty and security.

Beijing has watched with growing concern increasing the US support for Taiwan, especially during Donald Trump’s administration which left office on Wednesday.

Last year during visits by senior US officials to Taipei Chinese aircraft briefly crossed the median line of Taiwan Strait, which normally serves as an unofficial buffer.

The flight by the Chinese bombers and fighters on Saturday came just days after Joe Biden assumed the US presidency.

Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council said the US commitment to Taiwan was “rock-solid” after the island’s de facto ambassador in Washington, Hsiao Bikhim, attended Biden’s swearing-in on Wednesday.

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