By Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON — China’s military announced it would no longer recognize the unofficial air and sea median line in the Taiwan Strait that marks the border of Taiwan, an escalation and threat that dramatically increases the risk for accidental or planned confrontation.
The announcement came as 19 Chinese warplanes entered the identification zone on Saturday, with some of them also crossing the line into the Taiwanese side, according to the Taiwan Defense Ministry Twitter posts.
On September 19, twelve J-16 fighters, two J-10 fighters, two J-11 fighters, two H-6 bombers, and one Y-8 ASW crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan’s southwest Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in a pincer formation, the ministry added.
That incursion came one day after Taiwan scrambled multiple fighter jets after Beijing sent two bombers and 16 fighters over the Taiwan Strait in a show of bluster as a top U.S. State Department official held meetings in Taiwan.
Pentagon officials said Saturday that the “aggressive and destabilizing actions” by China’s military reflect “another example of [China] increasingly using its military as a tool of coercion with Taiwan and other neighbors.”
Taiwan said Chinese warplanes entered its airspace two days last week, according to its ministry and AP news reports.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Keith Krach held talks with Taiwan’s minister of economic affairs and the vice premier, business leaders, and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, according to the AP.
Krach is the most senior State Department official to visit Taiwan in four decades, according to Reuters.
The U.S. government is preparing to sell Taiwan seven packages of weapons, though it’s unclear when Congress would be formally notified about the sales, as is required by law. The packages include anti-ship missiles and other long-range missiles that would allow Taiwanese jets to hit distant Chinese targets in the event of a conflict.