Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that 14 Chinese Air Force planes have in the past 24 hours crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait, which is an unofficial dividing line between the two sides.
State media said the Chinese navy continued “actual combat training” around Taiwan on Tuesday, a day after Beijing announced the end of the exercises and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen criticized China for its “irresponsible” behaviour.
China began the maneuvers on Saturday after Tsai returned to Taipei following a meeting in Los Angeles with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
China has warned the United States not to allow Tsai to visit or meet McCarthy. Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has never renounced the use of force to bring the democratically-ruled island under Beijing’s control. The Taiwan government firmly rejects China’s claim.
Although China said Monday evening that the exercise had ended, state television said a few warships “continued to carry out actual combat exercises in the waters around Taiwan to test the organizational and leadership capabilities of commanders at all levels and the combat effectiveness of weapons and equipment.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had detected nine Chinese ships and 26 aircraft, including J-16s and Su-30s, conducting combat readiness patrols around the island late Tuesday morning. She added that Taiwan’s air force, navy and missile crews were watching closely.
The Taiwan government has consistently condemned the exercises, but has said it will not escalate or provoke.
“I represent my country in front of the world,” Tsai wrote on her Facebook page shortly before midnight on Monday, and that her visits abroad and stops in the United States are not new and this is what the people of Taiwan expect.
And she went on to say that China had invoked this “to launch military exercises, causing instability in Taiwan and the region. This is not a responsible position for a major country in the region.”
China simulated accurate attacks and blockade of Taiwan during the maneuvers by sending dozens of combat aircraft and bombers.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said 91 Chinese military aircraft flew Monday on missions around the island.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency said this was a record, although the Ministry of Defense said it could neither confirm nor deny it.
The ministry released a map showing Chinese planes crossing Monday the middle line in the Taiwan Strait, which usually serves as an unofficial barrier in the north and center.
The ministry also displayed 15 J-15s, most likely taken off from China’s Shandong aircraft carrier, flying over eastern Taiwan.
Taiwan has been monitoring the carrier Shandong in the western Pacific since last week.
The exercises also raised concern in Japan, especially since its southern islands are located near Taiwan and could be affected in the event of a conflict.
The Japanese island of Okinawa hosts a major US air base, and last August Chinese missiles fell inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone when China organized war games to protest the visit of then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada described the Chinese military maneuvers around Taiwan as a “terrifying exercise” for naval and air control around the island. Hamada told reporters that China seems to have shown an “unrelenting stance” on Taiwan issues through the exercises.