The Japan Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response to a “suspected intrusion” by a Chinese aircraft carrier into its airspace from May 6–8 over the East China Sea, Japanese officials wrote in a May 9 tweet.
Beijing also increased military drills around Taiwan.
The Japanese Defense Ministry said in a statement that four Chinese naval vessels, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier, were spotted on May 7 in the waters about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Ishigaki Island, Okinawa prefecture.
It added that the warships were the same as those that were spotted passing between the Okinawa and Miyako islands on May 1–2.
The Chinese military confirmed on May 9 that naval and air force assets conducted drills from May 6–8 to the east and southwest of Taiwan “to test and improve the joint operations capability of multiple services and arms,” without elaborating further.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it detected 18 Chinese aircraft, including 12 J-11 and J-16 fighter aircraft, and two H-6 bombers, entering its air defense identification zone on May 6.
The self-ruled island responded by issuing radio warnings and deploying air defense missile systems to monitor the Chinese warplanes.
Japan first announced on May 3 that eight Chinese naval vessels, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier, passed between islands in its southern Okinawa chain on May 2. The Izumo light aircraft carrier was deployed to monitor the Chinese vessels.
Taiwan also detected the Chinese flotilla and deployed air defense missile systems to monitor its movements.
Gao Xiucheng, a spokesperson of the Chinese Navy, said on May 3 that the warships were on a routine combat training exercise in the West Pacific. Gao said the deployment was in line with international law and wasn’t targeted at any party.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to conquer the island by force if necessary. On Jan. 23, the Chinese military sent 39 warplanes into Taiwan’s air space, including fighter jets and a bomber.