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No 'median line': China sends 103 warplanes around Taiwan

September 18, 2023 21:17 IST

China on Monday dismissed the existence of a 'median line' in the volatile Taiwan Strait after Taiwan's defence ministry said it detected a record 103 Chinese warplanes flying around the self-ruled island in a 24-hour period.

IMAGE: F-16 aircrafts fly during a drill rehearsal in New Taipei City, Taiwan on July 20, 2023. Image used only for representation. Photograph: Ann Wang/Reuters

"First of all, this is not a question about foreign affairs. I suggest you refer to competent Chinese authorities for specifics," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said without commenting on Beijing's latest military provocation.

"Let me say that Taiwan is part of China's territory. There is no so-called 'median line' in the Taiwan Strait," Mao asserted when a reporter sought her response to Taiwan's defence ministry's statement that 40 of the 103 Chinese People's Liberation Army warplanes crossed the 'median line' on the Taiwan Strait in a 24-hour span between Sunday and Monday.


China views Taiwan a democratically governed island of 24 million as part of its territory, despite having never governed it.

The ruling Communist Party of China has long vowed that the island must be unified with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary, while Taiwan strongly rejects China's territorial claims over it.

According to a flight map provided by Taiwan's defence ministry, 40 of the 103 Chinese warplanes crossed the 'median line' on the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan's self-declared air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

Those 40 incursions were made by 10 Su-30 fighter jets, 12 J-10 fighter jets, four J-11 fighter jets, 10 J-16 fighter jets, two Y-20 aerial refuelling aircraft, and two KJ-500 airborne early warning and control planes, it said.

The ministry said it had tasked combat air patrol aircraft, navy vessels and land-based missile systems to respond.

The number of incursions marked a new high in recent times, posing a 'serious challenge' to security in the Taiwan Strait and wider region, the ministry said.

'Continued harassment by the Chinese military is likely to cause a sharp rise in tensions and deteriorate regional security,' it said, calling on Beijing to 'immediately cease such destructive and unilateral behaviour'.

The latest military action from Beijing came days after China decided to impose sanctions on two US defence companies -- Lockheed Martin Corporation and Northrop Grumman - for their involvement in arms sales to Taiwan.

In disregard of China's firm opposition, the US government deliberately supplies weapons to China's Taiwan region, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao said on Friday.

The United States is going further down the wrong and dangerous path of arming Taiwan, Mao said at a press briefing.

The Chinese government never wavers in its resolve to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, Mao said.

"We call on the United States to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-U.S. joint communiques, stop arms sales to Taiwan, stop military collusion with Taiwan, and stop arming Taiwan, otherwise it will be met with China's resolute response," she warned.

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