Tensions escalate as China dispatches biggest number of jets across Taiwan Strait

Taiwan says 68 Chinese jets, 13 warships cross median line in Taiwan Strait.

Tensions escalate as China dispatches biggest number of jets across Taiwan Strait

As part of its major military exercises held surrounding Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip, China dispatched the biggest number of military aircraft across the Taiwan Strait on Friday, according to the Defense Ministry of the self-ruled island.

The ministry said around 68 Chinese jets have so far crossed the so-called median line of the Taiwan Strait.

“This dangerous escalation of the military threat is wrecking peace and stability in the region and must be condemned,” said Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joshua Wu.

It is the highest number of Chinese jets this year crossing the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) -- which Taiwan identifies as its air space.

China does not recognize the ADIZ as Beijing considers Taiwan its “breakaway province.”

The Chinese armory to cross the ADIZ also included 13 warships.

Taiwanese Defense Ministry reported that the Chinese jets and vessels crossed the ADIZ around 5 p.m. (0900GMT) on Friday.

The ministry said the Taiwanese armed forces “responded to such a situation accordingly with surveillance systems, CAP (combat air patrol) aircraft, naval vessels, and missile systems.”

“We condemn such action that disturbed our surrounding airspace and waters and continue to ensure our democracy and freedom free from threats,” the ministry added.

This came as China sanctioned Pelosi and suspended high-level military communication with the US besides other "countermeasures."

People’s Liberation Army of China has been conducting massive joint exercises, in waters and airspaces of northern, southwestern, and eastern Taiwan, which include live-fire drills, and blasting ballistic missiles over Taiwan into the economic zone of Japan.

Beijing, however, says Japan and China have not yet designated the maritime borders.

The unprecedented military exercises came in response to Pelosi's trip to Taiwan earlier this week.

Pelosi is the first sitting US House speaker who visited Taiwan in the past 25 years.

She led a delegation of US lawmakers that began their trip from Singapore on Monday, followed by Malaysia from where she traveled to Taiwan, triggering an angry response from Beijing.

She left Taiwan on Wednesday evening for South Korea and finally landed in Tokyo on Thursday night to conclude her visit on Friday.

Taiwan was not mentioned in Pelosi's official tour agenda.

Hüseyin Demir