TAIPEI: The US urged China on Sunday to stop its “provocative military” activities near Taiwan, after the island scrambled jets to warn away close to 100 Chinese military aircraft entering its air defence zone over a three-day period.
Taiwan, a democratically governed island that is claimed by China, has complained for more than a year of repeated missions near it by China’s air force, often in the southwestern part of its air defence zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands. On Friday, Saturday and again on Sunday, Taiwan’s defence ministry reported that China’s air force had sent aircraft into the zone, with 39 on Saturday alone, the highest reported number to date.
“The US is very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilising, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability,” state department spokesman Ned Price said. The US has an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a “sufficient self-defence capability,” he said. Taiwan’s foreign ministry said China was increasing tension in the Indo-Pacific region.
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China has yet to comment on its activities, and it is not clear what may have caused Beijing to decide to mount the missions, though Friday was the country’s National Day, a patriotic holiday that marks the founding of the People’s Republic. It has previously said such flights were to protect the country’s sovereignty and aimed against “collusion” between Taiwan and the US.