China sent fighter jets and bombers into the skies around Taiwan on Thursday, in a renewed show of military force against the self-ruled island.
China flexes its muscles in the skies around Taiwan
China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, to be reunited eventually and with force, if necessary.
Relations between the two governments have deteriorated since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office two years ago. Tsai belongs to the traditionally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, though she has made no move to signal independence.
In a social media post, China’s Air Force said defending Chinese territory was its “holy mission.” It deployed H-6K long-range bombers, fighter jets, airborne early warning aircraft and reconnaissance aircraft.
China conducted live-fire military drills near Taiwan on April 18.
Taiwan officials responded to the recent military drills by calling them “provocation.”
“The other side [across the strait] shouldn't start trouble," said Deputy Minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council Chiu Chui-cheng, adding that China should give up the use of force and communicate with Taiwan to resolve their differences.
The US, which is Taiwan’s strongest backer, said the drills sent “a definite message of intimidation to Taiwan.”
The US recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing, and deals unofficially with Taiwan. Even though Washington and Taipei do not have formal diplomatic ties, the US is legally bound to support Taiwan if the island is attacked, through the Taiwan Relations Act, enacted in 1979.