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Taiwan reports major raid by Chinese air force

Taiwan reports major raid by Chinese air force

Eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets entered the southwest corner of Taiwan's air defense identification zone on Saturday, and the Taiwanese air force deployed missiles to "monitor" the incursion, the island's Defense Ministry said.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has made nearly daily flights over the waters between southern Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea in recent months.

However, they have generally consisted of just one or two reconnaissance aircraft.

The presence of so many Chinese fighter jets on this mission (Taiwan said it consisted of eight nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and four J-16 fighter jets) is unusual.

A map provided by the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense showed that the Chinese plane, which also included a Y-8 anti-submarine plane, flew over the same waters where the most recent Chinese missions have been carried out near the Pratas Islands, although still very away from mainland Taiwan.

The Taiwanese air force has warned Chinese planes and deployed missiles to monitor them, the ministry added, using standard wording on how it responds to such activities.

"Airborne warning sorties had been commissioned, radio warnings were issued and air defense missile systems were deployed to monitor activity," it said in a brief statement.

There were no immediate comments from China. In the past, China has said that it has been conducting exercises to defend the country's sovereignty and security.

Beijing has watched with growing concern the rise in US support for democratic Taiwan, especially during the administration of Donald Trump who left office on Wednesday.

Last year, during visits by senior US officials to Taipei, Chinese planes briefly crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait, which normally serves as an unofficial buffer.

The flight of the Chinese bombers and fighters on Saturday came just days after Joe Biden assumed the US presidency.

Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said the United States' commitment to Taiwan was "rock solid" after the island's de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, attended Biden's swearing-in on Wednesday.

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