Taiwan’s air force scrambled for the second day in a row on Monday to intercept Chinese jets that approached the island claimed by Beijing as its own, as tensions between the two took on a potentially dangerous military dimension.
The Chinese planes, consisting of J-11 jet fighters, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and H-6 bombers, flew near the eastern side of Taiwan at 11 a.m., according to a MND statement that did not disclose the number of Chinese planes involved.
Taiwan’s air force responded by scrambling the missile-carrying F-16s to follow the Chinese planes, as well as mobilizing other surveillance and air defense assets, the MND said.
A photo taken during the incident showing a Taiwanese F-16 flying alongside a Chinese H-6 was released by the MND.
According to the ministry, the Chinese planes, which carried out a long-distance training mission, flew through the Bashi Channel to the south of Taiwan and into the western Pacific Ocean before returning to their bases via the Miyako Strait to the northeast of Taiwan.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) long-distance flights have impacted the safety and stability of the region and have threatened the peace among related parties in the region,” the statement said.
There was no immediate comment from China on Monday’s incident. This is only the second time since 2016 that Taiwan has said that Chinese jets had crossed the strait’s median line. Their military aircraft tend to keep to their own sides.