A swarm of 71 Chinese air force planes, including fighter jets and drones, flew into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in the last 24 hours, the island’s government said on Monday.
While officially claimed by the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan is independently ruled and has its own armed forces.
It additionally announced that a total of 43 of the planes crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line, which is an unofficial buffer between the two sides and is in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
While Taiwanese officials qualified these activities as an attempt to manipulate the public through acts of psychological warfare and intimidation, a spokesman for the Chinese East Theater Command called it “a firm response to the current escalation of collusion and provocations by the U.S. and Taiwan.”
Last Friday, the National Defense Authorization Act was passed by the U.S. Senate. Along with authorizing government defense spending at a record $858 billion a year, it provides Taiwan with $10 billion in military assistance grants over the next five years.
The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs took to Twitter to thank the U.S. lawmakers for signing the bill into law, saying that it would further reinforce “security cooperation & regional stability.”
Earlier in December, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning alleged that this was anti-Chinese political manipulation and that the U.S. supplying Taiwan with arms would “undermine sovereignty and security, threaten peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and send a false message to Taiwan’s separatist forces,” TASS, Russia’s government-owned media, reported.
According to the U.S. State Department, “As a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse, Taiwan is a key U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific.” Taiwan and the U.S. have “a robust unofficial relationship,” according to the State Department.
The latest Chinese military drills are similar to those put on late last summer when U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, as The Dallas Express previously reported.
In response to the “provocative” and “destabilizing” military actions, the White House National Security Council has announced that it will “continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability in line with our long-standing commitments and consistent with our one China policy.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to hold a news conference on Tuesday.