China has been warned to “pull back from the” brink after People’s Liberation Army fighter jets continued to infiltrate Taiwan’s airspace.
Diplomatic relations between Beijing and Taipei have deteriorated rapidly in the past month after two high-level visits to the island democracy by senior United States officials.
The latest involved US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach, who attended the memorial service for former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui during a three-day trip.
It also follows a move by Washington to put together a US$7 billion advanced arms deal for Taiwan following last year’s $8 billion agreement for military hardware.
“PLA’s military intimidation is deplorable and has caused resentment amongst people in Taiwan. We call on the PRC [the People’s Republic of China] to cherish peace and maintain regional stability,” Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense stated in a tweet.
In what has become a daily ritual, the island’s air force was forced to scramble fighters for the second time in 48 hours to intercept up to “19 PLA jets” after they had crossed the “highly-sensitive midline” of the Taiwan Strait.
“Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 19 Chinese aircraft were involved, one more than in the previous day, with some crossing the Taiwan Strait midline and others flying into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone off its southwest coast,” Reuters reported.
The island is considered a “renegade province” by China with President Xi Jinping’s ruling Communist Party vowing to take it by force if necessary.
Still, Saturday’s incident comes as tension between Beijing and Washington continues to rise in the South and East China Seas, as well as the ongoing technology and trade wars.
“We sent a delegation to a funeral. And the Chinese have apparently responded by military blustering,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a media briefing, referring to Krach’s Taipei trip.
Yet concerns are growing that the situation could spiral out of control.
“The US and Taiwan must not misjudge the situation, or believe the exercise is a bluff. Should they continue to make provocations, war will inevitably break out,” Global Times, which is owned by the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the CCP, said.