Taiwan scrambled fighter jets to confront dozens of Chinese aircraft that flew into the self-governed Island’s southeastern Air Defense Zone on Thursday.
China’s sortie included 21 fighter aircraft, four bombers and an assortment of support craft as well. The group totaled 39 planes in all, and Taiwan’s military also detected three Chinese naval vessels operating in the region, Reuters reported.
Taiwan did not detail how many craft it sent in response to the incursion but said missile defense systems tracked the Chinese planes’ progress.
China has grown increasingly aggressive toward Taiwan throughout this year. The country held weeks-long life-fire drills simulating an invasion of the country earlier this year. China argued the display came in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
China has long claimed to own Taiwan, despite the island splitting from mainland China in 1949. Democratic forces fled to Taiwan at the time after losing a civil war to the Chinese Communist Party.
Since then, the U.S. and other global powers have abided by the One China policy, which states that the government in Beijing is the only true authority over China. The U.S. has also vowed not to have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
President Biden’s administration has adopted a policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding whether the U.S. would intervene to defend Taiwan if China invaded the island. Biden himself has stated on at least four occasions that the U.S. military would intervene, but members of his administration have walked back the statement each time.
Biden last met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in early November and stated that he does not think there will be an “imminent attempt” from China to invade Taiwan.
“I absolutely believe there’s need not be a new Cold War,” Biden said at the time. “I’ve met many times with Xi Jinping and we were candid and clear with one another across the board. And I do not think there’s any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan.”
“And I made it clear that our policy on Taiwan has not changed at all. It’s the same exact position we’ve had,” Biden continued. “I made it clear that we want to see cross trade issues peacefully resolved and so it never has to come to that.”
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