Taiwan says Chinese planes have carried out ‘combat readiness’ patrols | Conflict news

Nine Chinese fighter jets and one military drone crossed the center line in the Taiwan Strait in a 24-hour period.

Ten Chinese aircraft have crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial barrier between the two sides, Taiwan’s defense ministry said, as Beijing continues its military activities near the island.

Nine Chinese fighter jets and one military drone crossed the central line in the 24 hours to 6 a.m. local time Saturday (20:00 GMT Friday), the ministry said in a daily report on Chinese military activities.

Taiwan sent fighter jets to warn the Chinese planes while missile systems monitored them, the ministry said, using standard wording for its response.

Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, has complained in recent years of near-daily Chinese air force missions near the democratically-ruled island, often in the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone.

The nine Chinese planes that crossed the center line on Friday were conducting combat readiness patrols, a move that Taiwan’s defense ministry said had “deliberately created tension” and undermined peace and stability.

Beijing has threatened unspecified retaliation if Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, now on a trip to Central America, meets with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as she passes through the US on her trip to Latin America.

Tsai arrived in Guatemala on Friday for a visit to strengthen ties with the dwindling ally after Honduras became the latest country to cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing. He will also visit neighboring Belize.

Tsai is expected to meet with McCarthy in Los Angeles on her return to Taipei later this month from Central America.

Washington said there was no reason for China to “overreact” to the “normal, incident-free” trip, while Beijing warned the US was “playing with fire” by Tsai being hosted by US officials.

China mounted military operations around Taiwan in August after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, and has continued military activities near Taiwan, albeit on a reduced scale.

A senior Taiwanese official familiar with the island’s security planning told Reuters this week that China was unlikely to repeat such large-scale drills, but that all preparations had been made in case China reacted “irrationally”.

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