South China Sea: War fears surge as Beijing fighter jets enter airspace of US ally Taiwan

Taiwan is ‘ready for any aggression’ says Tsai Ing-Wen

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Four J-16s and four JH-7s, along with an electronic warfare aircraft, flew close to the Pratas Islands in the southwestern part its air space. In response to the incursion, Taiwan’s airforce activated its missile system, and issued radio warnings, according to the Defence Ministry. Chinese fighter jets regularly violate Taiwan’s airspace with their incursions.

Beijing says it is responding to what is believes is “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.

Like most countries, the US has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is the island’s most powerful international backer and supplier of weapons.

The Biden administration has pledged to continue giving “rock solid” support for Taiwan.

In his first telephone call with President Xi Jinping on February 10, US President Joe Biden raised his concern about Beijing’s aggressive stance towards the island nation.

In a statement released by the White House after the call, Mr Biden said: “I spoke today with President Xi to offer good wishes to the Chinese people for lunar new year.

“I also shared concerns about Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan.”

Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory and believes it has no right to independence.

China’s Defence Ministry recently warned Taiwan’s democratically elected government that a declaration of independence would amount to a declaration of war.

Taipei is moving ahead with plans to beef up its military in readiness for potential conflict with its powerful neighbour.

President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed to defend Taiwan’s independence and is determined to oversea an overhaul of the military.

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This includes developing a fleet of new submarines, buying new F-16 fighters from the United States and upgrading its warships.

To oversea the changes, the Taiwanese president has just appointed the former National Security Bureau Director-General Chiu Kuo-cheng as Defence Minister.

Mr Kuo-cheng has close ties with the US, having graduated from the US Army War College in 1999.

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