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Taiwan Again Scrambles Jets to Intercept Chinese Planes, Tensions Spike

TAIPEI—Taiwans air force scrambled for a second day in a row on Feb. 10 to intercept Chinese jets that approached the island claimed by Beijing as its own, as tensions between the two took on a potentially dangerous military dimension.

Taiwans Defense Ministry said Chinese jets, accompanying H-6 bombers, briefly crossed an unofficial mid-line in the Taiwan Strait that separates the two, prompting its air force to rush to intercept and give verbal warnings to leave.

The Chinese aircraft then withdrew to the western side of the line, the ministry added, without identifying the jets.

The H-6s were on a training mission in the Pacific having passed through the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan from the Philippines, the ministry added and shared a picture of a Taiwan F-16 accompanying one of the H-6 bombers.

China has been flying what it calls “island encirclement” drills on-off since 2016 when Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen first took office. Beijing believes Tsai, who won re-election last month, wishes to push the islands formal independence.

Democratically governed Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China—its formal name—and has never been part of the Chinese regime.

On Sunday too, Chinese jets, including J-11 fighters, flew into the Bashi Channel then out into the Pacific before heading back to base via the Miyako Strait, located between Japans islands of Miyako and Okinawa, to the northeast of Taiwan.

According to Taiwans official Central News Agency, the F-16s scrambled on Sunday carried live missiles.

There was no immediate comment from China on Mondays incident. This is only the second time since 2016 that Taiwan has said that Chinese jets had crossed the straits median line. Their military aircraft tend to keep to their own sides.

Chinas Taiwan Affairs Office, though, urged Taiwans ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) “not to play with fire.”

Chinas Eastern Theater Command described Sundays fly-by of militarys combat ready patrol as a “necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and safeguarding national sovereignty.”

The Chinese regime has never renounced the use of military force to unite Taiwan with the mainland.

Taiwan-China Tensions

The latest fly-bys came as Taiwans vice-president elect, William Lai, was returning from a visit to Washington, where he attended the high-profile National Prayer Breakfast, at which U.S. President Donald Trump spoke. China denounced Lais trip.

Washington is Taipeis most important backer and arms supplier, despite the absence of official diplomatic ties.

China says Taiwan is the most sensitive issue in its relations with theRead More – Source

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