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South China Sea: Beijing sparks fury sending nineteen fighter jets towards Taiwan | World | News

On one occasion, Chinese pilots hit out at Taiwanese forces who tried to get them to leave the area. Taiwan-based newspaper China Times reports Taiwanese officials urged the aircraft to “immediately turn to leave.”

However, the pilots responded by saying: “There is no middle line of the strait.”

Malcolm Davis, a former defence adviser, explained China’s possible reasoning behind the move to deny the existence of the median line – a boundary which runs down the middle of the Taiwan Strait.

He said “redrawing the map over the median line in the Taiwan Strait is a very obvious step to not only raise the pressure, but also justify the use of force,” according to Bloomberg.

Mr Davis added the “probes” into Taiwan’s side of the line could be an effort to “provoke the Taiwanese air force to ‘shoot first’” which could justify further violence.

China is widely reported to consider Taiwan part of its owner territory. Taiwan, however, maintains its independence.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence said in a tweet on Saturday it “strongly condemns” China’s recent military drills in the region.

It claimed a large number of Chinese air force jets had entered into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone on a single day.

This included sixteen different types of fighter jet – of which twelve were J-16 models – as well as two H-6 bombers and a Y-8 ASW anti-submarine patrol aircraft.

READ: China’s fighter jets buzz enemy territory in huge escalation – Taiwan scrambles bombers

Late last week, US undersecretary of state Keith Krach travelled to the island nation to meet its president Tsai Ing-wen in the latest move to strengthen US-Taiwan relations.

The US Department of State claimed the purpose of Mr Krach’s visit was to attend a memorial service for the country’s former president Lee Teng-hui.

However, it is understood the official also held talks with Taiwanese counterparts about trade.

The US said: “The United States honors President Lee’s legacy by continuing our strong bonds with Taiwan and its vibrant democracy through shared political and economic values.”

Analysts say China was angered by the move. Last month, US health secretary Alex Azar made a similar visit.

Responding to that, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing was “firmly opposed” to official exchanges between the US and Taiwan.

He added: “On issues involving China’s core interests, some people in the United States must not have any illusions and wishful thinking. Those who play with fire will get burnt.”

In the past couple of months, both the US and China have held military exercises in the South China Sea. According to reports, the US exercises in the area were the first in nearly a decade.

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