Sat Sep 19, 2020 5:28
Taiwan Scrambles Warplanes as China Holds Aerial Drills Nearby
TEHRAN (FNA)- Taiwan's air force scrambled its jet fighters for a second consecutive day as numerous Chinese warplanes crossed the sensitive midline of the Taiwan Strait, with Taipei’s officials urging Beijing to "pull back from the edge".

Taiwan's Defense Ministry declared on Saturday that 19 Chinese aircraft took part in the aerial drill, some of which crossed the so-called median line dividing the Strait and entered Taiwan's Southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ), presstv reported.

It further said China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory, deployed 12 J-16 fighters, two J-10 fighters, two J-11 fighters, two H-6 bombers and one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft for the maneuver, but none got close to mainland Taiwan itself or flew over it.

"ROCAF scrambled fighters, and deployed air defense missile system to monitor the activities," the ministry also wrote in a Twitter message, referring to the Republic of China Air Force, the formal name of Taiwan's air force.

This is while, Beijing had announced during a press conference on Friday China's UN peacekeeping efforts as well as its combat drills near the Taiwan Strait while censuring what it described as collusion between Taipei and Washington following a visit to the island territory by a senior US diplomat that enraged China. 

Moreover, in a separate statement, Taiwan's defense ministry also accused China of conducting provocative activities and seriously damaging peace and stability.

"The Defense Ministry sternly condemns this, and calls on the mainland authorities to control themselves and pull back from the edge," it added.

However, China’s widely-read Global Times daily described the Chinese aerial drills in a Saturday editorial as a practice run to take over Taiwan, insisting, "The US and Taiwan must not misjudge the situation, or believe the exercise is a bluff. Should they continue to make provocations, a war will inevitably break out."

The development came as US State Department’s Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach began his 3-day tour of Taiwan on Thursday as the most senior American diplomat to visit the island territory in four decades, and attended the funeral for former Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui on Saturday which also featured Tibetan separatist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The visit triggered an immediate rebuke from Beijing, which opposes any recognition of Taiwan and has launched a decades-long policy of isolating the territory it considers as a renegade province.

It came as the hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of "military blustering" after Beijing carried out its aerial drills on Friday near the Taiwan Strait during Krach's visit.

Krach did not make any remarks during the service while in a pre-recorded video the US-backed Dalai Lama praised Lee's commitment to democracy.

Krach on Friday also held closed-door meetings with Taiwan's premier and other top officials before joining President Tsai Ing-wen for dinner at her official residence.

"I'm sure the productive discussions we had today will bring Taiwan & the US even closer together & open the door to further collaboration," Tsai announced in a Twitter message afterwards.

Washington's growing outreach to Taiwan under the Donald Trump administration has become yet another flashpoint with Beijing as the two economic and military powers clash over a range of issues, including trade, security, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.





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