Taiwan Reports Chinese Aircraft Threatening Airspace

On Sunday, Taiwan reported an escalation in Chinese military operations near its territory, with the sighting of nine Chinese aircraft crossing the critical median line of the Taiwan Strait and Chinese naval vessels conducting “combat readiness patrols.” Taiwan, a democracy that China views as part of its territory, has been vocal about China’s persistent military activities near the island, interpreting them as an attempt by Beijing to assert its sovereignty claims.

The recent surge in military actions comes after a period of reduced activity coinciding with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to San Francisco for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. During this event, Xi met with U.S. President Joe Biden.

The Taiwanese defense ministry reported the detection of nine Chinese aircraft, including Su-30 and J-10 fighter jets, along with early warning and electronic warfare planes, traversing the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Sunday morning. This median line has traditionally been an informal buffer between China and Taiwan, but it has been increasingly breached by Chinese aircraft.

In response, Taiwan dispatched its forces to track the movements, according to the ministry.

China’s defense ministry was not immediately available for comment. Beijing justifies its actions near Taiwan as a response to the perceived collaboration between Taiwan separatists and the United States, and as a measure to uphold China’s territorial integrity.

The Taiwanese government, maintaining its stance against Beijing’s sovereignty claims, insists that the island’s future should be determined solely by its citizens. Taiwan has also expressed willingness to engage in dialogue with China.

The issue of Taiwan was a prominent topic during the Biden-Xi meeting in San Francisco, where Xi emphasized to Biden that Taiwan represents the most critical and sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations, as conveyed by a senior U.S. official.

With Taiwan’s presidential and parliamentary elections set for January 13, the island’s complex relationship with China is a significant subject in the electoral discourse.

Over the past 18 months, China has conducted two major military exercises around Taiwan. However, the Chinese air force has not flown over Taiwan itself or entered its territorial airspace.