TAIPEI, Taiwan (CNN) – Taiwan says Chinese military aircraft entered its air defense identification zone Thursday morning.
The air incursions come one day after Taiwan officially applied to join a free-trade agreement among eleven countries around the Pacific Rim.
In the latest sign of escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait, the island’s Ministry of National Defense reported the largest incursion of Chinese warplanes into Taiwan’s self-declared Air Defense Identification Zone since mid-June.
On Thursday morning and afternoon local time, the Ministry of National Defense in Taiwan said that 24 Chinese fighter jets, bombers and other military aircraft entered Taiwan’s ADIZ, which is essentially a buffer zone between the islands’ sovereign airspace, which extends 12 nautical miles from its coast and international airspace.
When aircraft enter a nation’s ADIZ, air traffic control will often ask them to identify themselves and also alert the military of a possible incoming threat. But by staying in the ADIZ and not actually getting so close to Taiwan to violate its sovereign airspace, Beijing is not violating international law. What they are doing, Taipei said, is bullying and intimidating the self-governing island of 23 million people, an island that has its own democratically elected government, its own military and an island that mainland China continues to claim as its own sovereign territory as it has for more than 70 years since the end of China’s civil war.
Beijing doesn’t like it when Taiwan tries to assert itself on a global stage. And Taipei said it’s no coincidence that this latest active military intimidation comes just one day after Taiwan applied to join a major Pacific trade agreement that China is also trying to be a part of.
Taiwan accused Beijing of trying to block its participation in this trade deal and other regional and global bodies because Beijing doesn’t think that Taiwan’s government is legitimate and therefore should not be representing itself, when mainland China says, Taiwan is a part of China, a claim that Taiwan and its government firmly rejects.
Taiwan has been showcasing its own military strength in recent weeks. Just last week, they staged a live-fire military exercise, landing fighter jets on highways as part of a drill simulating Taiwan’s response to a potential Chinese invasion.
President Biden will be talking about China at the White House with leaders of the quad nations of Australia, Japan and India. The number one topic on the agenda is expected to be how to counter China’s rising assertiveness in this region, and Taiwan is vowing to beef up its military spending to try to counter china’s massive military budget.