The self-governed island of Taiwan on Tuesday said that it has spotted at least 22 Chinese military warplanes and 20 warships near its territory over the last 24 hours, as Beijing continues to step up its aggression in the area.
Among these, 13 aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait - an unofficial demarcation zone between Taiwan and China, said the island's defence ministry on Tuesday. The day before, China had sailed a naval formation led by carrier Shandong around 70 miles near Taiwan.
Chinese state media reported that the vessel would conduct military drills simulating aerial, submarine, vessel and land attacks. However, China has been stepping up its military activity near Taiwan by sending warships and warplanes on an almost regular basis in its apparent efforts for 'reunification'
"There are a lot of warship activities in the waters surrounding the Taiwan Strait. There was also a large number of warships operating in different areas in the South China Sea and East China Sea," said Huang Wen-Chi, the assistant deputy chief with the General Staff for Intelligence of Taiwan's Defence Ministry.
Last week, the United States and Canada sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait as a challenge to China's territorial claims. The USS Ralph Johnson and the Royal Canadian Navy's Halifax-class frigate HMCS Ottawa sailed through the strait. China calls these as 'provocative actions' while US says they are part of 'freedom of navigation' efforts.
The China-Taiwan conflict
It is worth mentioning Taiwan split with China in 1949 after a civil war. However, China still calls the island nation its own. Even it provoked Taipei to war following then-US Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island nation in August last year. In fact, the ruling Communist Party says the island is obliged to rejoin the mainland, by force if necessary.
Recently, a row erupted after the Xi Jinping-led government released a new "standard map" wherein it incorporated claims over the estranged island of Taiwan and the nine-dash line claiming a large part of the South China Sea.
Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jeff Liu said Taiwan was “absolutely not a part of the People’s Republic of China”. "No matter how the Chinese government twists its position on Taiwan’s sovereignty, it cannot change the objective fact of our country’s existence," Liu told a press briefing.
Meanwhile, China lodged strong protests and asked India to refrain from having any formal military and security cooperation with Taipei, after three former service chiefs of the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy attended a security dialogue in Taiwan.
(with AP inputs)