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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - TAIPEI: Taiwan said it scrambled fighter jets Monday after Chinese military aircraft briefly crossed into its airspace, the first major incursion since the island’s Beijing-wary president was re-elected in January.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said a Chinese H-6 bomber and accompanying aircraft briefly crossed over a “median line” in the Taiwan Strait.
It was only the second time Chinese aircraft crossed the largely respected line dividing the two sides in the strait since March last year.
The aircraft returned to Chinese airspace after “our fighter jets took appropriate responsive and interceptive measures and broadcast warnings to leave,” the ministry said in a statement.
It did not specify how many and what type of Chinese aircraft had crossed the median line.
Last March, two Chinese J-11 fighter jets crossed over the line for the first time in years, prompting Taipei to accuse Beijing of violating a long-held tacit agreement in a “reckless and provocative” incursion.
China has ramped up the number of fighter and warship crossings near Taiwan or through the strait since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016.
Her government refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of “one China.”
In December, shortly before elections, a newly commissioned Chinese aircraft carrier sailed through the Taiwan Strait for a second time.
The Shandong, China’s first domestically built carrier, also traversed the strait in November, sparking concerns from Washington’s de facto embassy in Taiwan.
Tsai won a second term in a landslide in January in an outcome seen as a forceful rebuke of Beijing’s ongoing campaign to isolate the island.
China still sees the self-ruling democratic island as part of its territory and vows to one day seize it, by force if necessary.
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