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China flies more warplanes through Taiwanese airspace

Taiwan has accused Chinese military aircraft of violating its airspace for a second straight day.

Eight Chinese bombers, including nuclear-capable ones, and four fighter jets entered the south-western corner of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Saturday, a Taiwanese defence ministry statement said.

The air incursion, the statement went on, led Taiwan’s air force to deploy missiles to “monitor” the “provocative” movements.

On Sunday, Taipei said China sent another sixteen military aircraft of various types into the same area.

The day before, the US State Department accused Beijing of aggression, saying it was concerned by China’s “pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours, including Taiwan”.

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives,” Ned Price, a State Department spokesman said.

Although Beijing did not immediately comment on the latest developments, it’s nevertheless the case that China has used such flights in the past as a means of pressuring Taiwan’s pro-independence president, Tsai Ing-wen, into caving to its demand that she recognise Taiwan as a part of China.

The Chinese incursions also come on the heels of US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, emphasising Taiwan’s enduring position in the panoply of divisive issues between Washington and Beijing, alongside other contentious matters like human rights, trade disputes, Beijing’s treatment of minority Uighurs as well as questions about China’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the new Biden administration is seen as favouring a return to more civil dialogue with China, it is also clear that Beijing was unnerved by the US State Department statement on Saturday that said Washington would continue to deepen ties with Taiwan and ensure its defence from Chinese threats.

In an earlier move, described by a Chinese government spokesman as “adding insult to injury”, Taiwan’s de-facto ambassador to Washington was an invited guest at Mr. Biden’s inauguration last Wednesday.

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