Taiwan scrambled fighter jets, put its navy on alert and activated missile systems in response to nearby operations by 34 Chinese military aircraft and nine warships that are part Beijing’s strategy to unsettle and intimidate the self-governing island democracy.
The large-scale Chinese deployment came as Beijing increases preparations for a potential blockade or military action against Taiwan that have stirred increasing concern among military leaders, diplomats and elected officials in the U.S., Taiwan’s key ally.
In a memo last month, U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan instructed officers to be prepared for a U.S. -China conflict over Taiwan in 2025. As head of the Air Mobility Command, Minihan has a keen understanding of the Chinese military and his personal remarks echo calls in the U.S. for heightened preparations.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 20 Chinese aircraft on Tuesday crossed the central line in the Taiwan Strait that has long been an unofficial buffer zone between the sides, which separated during a civil war in 1949.
China claims the island republic as its own territory, to be taken by force if necessary, while the vast majority of Taiwanese are opposed to coming under the control of China’s authoritarian Communist Party.