35 planes cross median line
The Ministry of National Defense says 35 Chinese military aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait median line on Sunday.
The incursions come as China continues to carry out exercises around Taiwan as part of Beijing's response to last week's meeting between President Tsai Ing-wen and U-S House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Defence officials say the 35 aircraft were among 70 planes and 11 ships detected in the general vicinity of Taiwan on the second of three planned days of drills around the island. The sorties included Sukhoi SU-30 fighter jets, Shenyang J-10, J-11, J-15 and J-16D fighter jets, H-6K bombers, and KJ-500 airborne early warning and control planes.
The defence ministry says it scrambled combat air and naval patrols to track the Chinese aircraft and warships, while shore-based defensive missile systems were also activated. The ministry says it is also using combined intelligence and surveillance systems to monitor for signs of potential missile drills in waters around Taiwan.
The secretary-general of the Association of Chinese Elite Leadership says he believes Beijing's ongoing military exercises around Taiwan are aimed at appeasing nationalists in China who were upset after President Tsai Ing-wen met U-S House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Wang Zhi-sheng, the drills have "a bigger bark than bite" and could be seen as propaganda targeting nationalists. Wang says the live-fire drills are taking place mostly in waters off southeastern China's Fuzhou City and Pingtan County, and appear to be "rather routine and small-scale." The association secretary-general says the scope of the drills is far short of those launched in August 2022 and Beijing appears more restrained this time because it doesn't want to cause the same backlash from the international community.
In other defence news, the US Department of State has said that the Biden Administration is looking to speed up weapons deliveries to ensure Taiwan is better able to defend itself.
The agency confirmed Washington's intent to accelerate the process of military deliveries, one day after a high-profile meeting between Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles. It says peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are "not only longstanding U.S. interests, but they are also global interests.
According to McCarthy after the meeting on Wednesday, discussions addressed how to speed up deliveries of arms Taiwan has purchased. After the Tsai-McCarthy meeting, one of the Congress members in attendance Mike Gallagher said he would look for ways to get Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Taiwan before they go to Saudi Arabia. Gallagher is chair of the newly-formed House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.