Taiwan scrambles fighter jets as China deploys 36 warplanes to buzz island

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TAIWAN has scrambled fighter jets to protect its territory after China deployed more than 30 warplanes to buzz the island.

Dramatic video shared by Chinese state TV shows missiles being launched and jets mid-flight as part of joint military operations in the waters surrounding Taiwan.

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Taiwan has scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese military drillsCredit: Ministry of National Defence

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China has sent some 36 fighter jets to Taiwan’s territory in the past dayCredit: AP

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Chinese state media shared a map of its war drills around the islandCredit: CCTV

For its part, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence has shared its own footage of military exercises, including the second day of live-fire artillery drills in Pingtung, the southernmost province on the island.

The defence ministry claimed that 10 Chinese warships and 36 military aircraft had been detected around Taiwan on Wednesday.

In response, the ministry said it was monitoring the situation and deploying its own naval vessels, aircraft, and land-based missile systems.

Earlier on Wednesday, sources claimed Chinese naval ships were active off both the east and west coasts of Taiwan, while fighter jets were also flying close to the halfway point of the Taiwanese straight.

Sharing a clip of its fighter jets taking over ahead of journeys over the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s defence ministry said: “We are at the ready keeping our country safe. We stand on the frontlines to protect our country from any threat.

“We neither seek escalation nor instigate disputes. Maintaining the status quo is our solemn mission,” it went on, over footage of military exercises.

“Holding the median line, safeguarding our seas and our sovereignty, we have never given in to challenges, and never will,” the video concluded.

In response, China has shared its own footage of the Eastern Theatre Command of missile launches and military jet takeoffs and mid-air refuellings, as well as navy ships on so-called drills around Taiwan.

The video – shared by state broadcaster CCTV – also included a computer-generated animation of Chinese missiles landing in four distinct zones in the waters surrounding the island.

US warships are being deployed to the region, USNI reports, raising fears of a broader international conflict.

“We will continue to stand by our allies and partners,” US undersecretary of defence for policy Colin Kahl said. “So even as China tries to chip away at the status quo, our policy is to maintain the status quo with a free and open Indo-Pacific which is what I think most of the countries in the region would prefer.”

China’s military announced on Wednesday it has “completed various tasks” around Taiwan, but will continue to conduct regular patrols.

It added: “Theatre forces will keep an eye on the changes in the situation in the Taiwan Strait, continue to carry out training and preparation for combat, organise regular combat readiness patrols in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Taiwan says it has dispatched planes and ships to the area to monitor the situation.

We stand on the frontlines to protect our country from any threat

Taiwan Defence Ministry

Beijing has long claimed Taiwan as a “breakaway” territory, despite the island nation of more than 23 million people never being part of the modern People’s Republic.

The country was formed by the Nationalist government-in-exile, which fled there after its defeat in the Chinese civil war to the Communists in 1949.

China has ratcheted up tensions over its desire to conquer Taiwan, especially in the wake of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit this month.

In retaliation, China extended its largest-ever exercises around the island beyond the four days originally scheduled.

These drills included ballistic missile launches over Taiwan’s capital Taipei, and simulated sea and air attacks surrounding the island.

Taiwan’s foreign minister warned on Tuesday that China was using military drills as a game plan to prepare for invasion.

It also claimed that the war games reflect Beijing’s desire to control vast swathes of the western Pacific.

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A Chinese naval destroyer in the waters around TaiwanCredit: Reuters

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The US has also deployed warships to the Taiwan Straits, amid further escalation fearsCredit: The Mega Agency

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu accused China of wanting to exert dominance over the East and South China Seas and blockading Taiwan to prevent its allies from providing support in the event of an invasion.

He told a press conference that “China has no right to interfere in or alter” Taiwan’s democracy or interactions with other nations.

Pelosi’s visit – despite Chinese warnings – was the most high-profile of its kind by a US politician since 1997.

She said her visit showed unwavering US commitment to supporting Taiwan’s democracy.

China has vowed to take Taiwan by force if necessary.

In further sabre-rattling, China has warned that it will no longer rule out sending Chinese troops to Taiwan in the result of an invasion.

The new paper, titled “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era,” states: “We are one China, and Taiwan is a part of China. This is an indisputable fact supported by history and the law.

“Taiwan has never been a state; its status as a part of China is unalterable.”

The country’s state-backed Global Times newspaper warned that the Taiwan war games “won’t stop until reunification” as it claimed it had a “noose” around the island.

While China’s Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said on Tuesday the US was deliberately stirring up tension in the Taiwan Straits.

A leading expert on China’s military warned the US could be overrun by China in Taiwan in just days, as he called for Washington to “urgently” up its war preparations.

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