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Taiwan records scores of Chinese warplanes near island

September 14, 2023

The defense ministry in Taipei reported dozens of Chinese jets and 10 naval ships near Taiwan.

 Warplanes of the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conduct operations during joint combat training exercises around the Taiwan Island, Aug. 7, 2022.
Taiwan had cautioned that China was stepping up "gray zone" activities around the island.Image: Gong Yulong/Xinhua/Xinhua News Agency/picture alliance

Taiwan's Defense Ministry on Thursday said that it has detected 68 Chinese warplanes and 10 navy vessels around its shores in 24 hours.

Earlier this week, Taiwan had cautioned that China was stepping up "gray zone" activities around the island.

How intense was the Chinese activity?

As of 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, 40 of the detected aircraft — which included fighter jets and a drone — crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the self-ruled island's southwestern and southeastern air space, the ministry said.

Taiwanese authorities tasked combat air patrol aircraft, naval vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond to these activities, the ministry said.

Taipei had previously said that some of those planes and warships were heading to an unspecified area of the Western Pacific to "conduct joint sea and air training" with China's Shandong aircraft carrier.

Island authorities regularly report such actions by Chinese forces, but this time the number of planes was relatively high compared with previous events.

Is Taiwan living on borrowed time?

Taiwan has accused Beijing of seeking to stir regional tensions and put pressure on the territory that China claims as its own, while avoiding an all-out conflict.

While Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, China regards the self-ruled democracy part of its territory and has not ruled out the possibility of taking it back by force one day.

dvv/rc (AFP, dpa)