Taiwan said it scrambled combat aircraft to warn away 27 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defense zone on Sunday in yet another Chinese incursion across the Taiwan Strait.
The latest Chinese incursion involved 18 fighter jets and five H-6 bombers, as well as a Y-20 aerial refueling aircraft, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said.
The bombers and six of the fighters flew into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone near the southern part of the island, then out into the Pacific Ocean before heading back to China, according to a map by the Taiwan ministry.
Taiwan’s Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng spoke with reporters on the sidelines of a parliamentary briefing for lawmakers on Monday about the latest incursion.
“Their intention is to slowly exhaust, to let you know that we have this power,” Chiu said. “Our national forces have shown that, while you may have this power, we have countermeasures.”
Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn the Chinese aircraft to leave, and deployed missile systems to monitor them, the ministry said.
Those aircraft were accompanied by the refueling aircraft, suggesting China refueled the shorter-ranged fighters inflight, a skill that the country’s air force is still working to hone to enable it to project power further from China’s shores.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, described China’s latest incursion in the Taiwan Strait as a “coercive action” which was “obviously meant to bring Taiwan to its knees” and keep it away from democratic partners.
Taiwan government will “never” bow down to pressure from China, Wu said in a statement shared on Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account.
The latest mission came as Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with top generals at a three-day meeting which ended on Sunday, where he called for military talent cultivation to support and lead progress in strengthening the armed forces, according to Chinese state media Xinhua.
Xi, however, did not make any mention of Taiwan in his remarks during the meeting.
Taiwan is a de facto independent country, but China views the self-governing democratic island as a breakaway province. Taiwan has voiced concerns for more than a year of repeated missions by China’s air force near it, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
On Oct.1, when China marked its national day, Taiwan reported that nearly 150 Chinese military aircraft entered its air defense zone four days in a row. Taiwan’s defense ministry said the Chinese mission included 34 J-16 fighters and 12 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, all of which flew in an area in the vicinity of the Pratas Islands.
Taiwan’s government argued that China was the “chief culprit” in creating tensions across the Taiwan Strait, demanding China to immediately stop “irresponsible provocation” against the island.
Reuters contributed to this article.