Taiwan’s air force scrambled on Sunday to fend off eight Chinese aircraft including fighter jets that entered its air defense zone, its defense ministry said, at a time of heightened tensions across the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
The reported move by China “is not unusual,” a U.S. Defense official told Fox News on Thursday. “China has done this in the past a couple months ago, had similar type of events regularly.”
China’s last excursion into Taiwanese airspace happened on January 23 when 39 Chinese aircraft flew through Taiwan defense space. On Thursday, Taiwan reported that nine Chinese aircraft flew into the island nation’s airspace.
The U.S. remains “concerned” by “provocative military action near Taiwan,” the U.S. official continued. “The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan,” the official said.
Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force near the self-ruled island, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force, says Chinese military activities near the island jeopardize regional stability and repeatedly vows to defend its freedom and democracy.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Chinese counterpart on Sunday that the United States opposed actions by China that have increased tensions across the Taiwan Strait, a senior State Department official said.
The official said that during an hour-long meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Rome, Blinken made “crystal clear” that Washington opposes any unilateral changes by Beijing to the status quo there.
Wang told Blinken that tensions over Taiwan were caused by U.S. support for pro-independence forces on the island, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen says the island is an independent country and has made modernizing the armed forces, which is well-armed but inferior to China’s, a top priority.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK POST