Taiwan detects 23 Chinese aircraft around the island

TAIPEI: Taiwan's defence ministry said Tuesday it had detected 23 Chinese aircraft around the island in a window of less than three hours.

China maintains a near-daily military presence around self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory.

"Since 8:20 am (0020 GMT), we have successively detected a total of 23 aircraft... including 16 that crossed the median line," the defence ministry said, referring to a line bisecting the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China.

The ministry statement, issued at 10:40 am, said that the aircraft included fighter jets, transport aircraft and drones.

Taiwan's "military is using joint intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance methods to closely monitor the situation."

Tuesday's surge comes after China sent in 19 aircraft, eight naval vessels, and four Chinese coast guard ships around Taiwan within a 24-hour period ending at 6 am Tuesday, according to Taipei's daily report.

Tensions on the strait have been ramped up since the May 20 inauguration of Taiwan's new President Lai Ching-te.

China said his inauguration speech ā€“ in which he vowed to defend Taiwan's democracy and freedom ā€“ was akin to a "confession of Taiwan independence."

Three days later it launched war games around Taiwan, encircling the island with warplanes and ships as a "punishment" for "separatist acts."

China has said it would never renounce the use of force to take control of Taiwan. - AFP

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