China sent 71 warplanes as a part of its biggest display of military might near Taiwan since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the democratically-run island in August, with Taipei accusing Beijing of "military intimidation."
Taiwan's ministry of defense said the group included 47 Chinese military aircraft that had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan's southwest air defense identification zone in a 24-hour period through 6 a.m. Monday. China also sent seven naval vessels near the island, it said.
"The CCP's related 'military intimidation' is clearly aimed at deterring our people, which will not help the CCP's international image," Taiwan's Defense Ministry said in a statement referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
71 PLA aircraft and 7 PLAN vessels around Taiwan were detected in our surrounding region by 6 a.m.(UTC+8) today. R.O.C. Armed Forces have monitored the situation and tasked CAP aircraft, Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond these activities. pic.twitter.com/DagRhnN69F
China's military said Sunday it conducted exercises around Taiwan in response to escalating "collusion and provocations" from Taiwan and the US, after the latter authorized increased military assistance to the island.
The People's Liberation Army staged combat readiness patrols and drills around Taiwan, according to a statement from Taiwan's Eastern Theater Command. The military will take "all necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity," it said.
Last week, US lawmakers agreed to a $1.7 trillion spending bill that included $2 billion in weapons funding for Taiwan. China's defense ministry has also blasted the US National Defense Authorization Act, which permits up to $10 billion in weapons sales to Taiwan, for playing up the China threat and interfering in its internal affairs.
China usually increases the number of planes it sends into the strait after events that it deems provocative. Earlier this month, its military sent its biggest daily sortie of bombers into the Taiwan Strait in at least two years, in apparent show of displeasure over a visit by a senior member of Japan's ruling party.
China was infuriated with Pelosi's trip to Taipei, which Foreign Minister Wang Yi called a "complete farce" and warned "those who offend China will be punished." Beijing responded to her trip with unprecedented military drills around Taiwan, including firing missiles in the sea and crossing the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait.