- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2020

Taiwan on Friday deployed fighter jets and activated its air defense missile system after 18 Chinese planes crossed the disputed midline of the Taiwan Strait.

China’s incursion into Taiwanese airspace comes as U.S. officials participate in talks with Taiwanese officials in Taipei.

Beijing earlier condemned the meetings, attended by U.S. Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach, vowing a “necessary response,” Reuters reported. Chinese officials alleged that Washington was colluding with Taiwan.

While Washington and Beijing have clashed on a number of fronts — including trade, human rights, Hong Kong and control of the South China Sea — China has regularly reacted with a special concern to signs that the U.S. was bolstering the independence of Taiwan, which the communist country claims as its own territory.

According to a tweet issued by the Taiwanese defense ministry, “two H-6 bombers, eight J-16 fighters, four J-10 fighters and four J-11 fighters crossed the midline of the TaiwanStrait and entered Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ,” or air defense identification zone.

Taiwan’s air force “scrambled fighters, and deployed air defense missile system to monitor the activities,” the defense ministry said.

Friday’s incident marks the second time in roughly six weeks that Taiwan has scrambled a response to aircraft activity from China during a high-level U.S. visit.

Last month, China briefly deployed two fighter jets across the midline of the Taiwan Strait shortly ahead of a visit between U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Ahead of the historic visit, which marked the highest-level visit to the island by a U.S. official since 1979, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin demanded that the U.S. stop all forms of official communication with Taiwan and warned of retaliation.

Beijing then flew J-11 and J-10 jet fighters into Taiwan’s part of the narrow strait. Taiwan tracked the jets using land-based anti-aircraft missiles and were “driven out” by patrolling aircraft.

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