China has sent a record 18 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers to Taiwan’s air defense zone, the island’s defense ministry said on Tuesday, as Beijing continues to step up pressure on the country. autonomous island.
The 18 bombers were part of a total of 21 Chinese fighter jets sent to Taiwan’s Southwest Air Defense Identification Zone – an airspace buffer zone commonly referred to as ADIZ – in the 24 hours between Monday morning and Tuesday morning, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.
The ministry said it was monitoring the situation and using its fighter jets as well as land-based missile systems to track Chinese planes.
The flights represent the highest number of H-6 sorties in a 24-hour period since Taipei began publishing daily data on Chinese fighter incursions in 2020.
An ADIZ is unilaterally imposed and separate from sovereign airspace, which is defined under international law as extending 12 nautical miles from a territory’s coastline.
China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party considers Taiwan – a democratically governed island of 24 million – to be part of its territory, although it has never controlled it. He has long vowed to “reunite” the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.
Tensions around Taiwan have increased markedly this year. A visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August sparked Chinese fury and an immediate wave of military exercises.
Since then, Beijing has stepped up its military pressure tactics on the island, sending fighter jets across the centerline of the Taiwan Strait, the body of water separating Taiwan and China.
For decades, the median line served as an informal dividing line between the two, with military incursions across it being rare.
In November, US President Joe Biden met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in person for the first time during his presidency at the G20 summit in Indonesia. Afterwards, Biden described the three-hour meeting as “open and frank” and cast doubt on an impending invasion of Taiwan.
Formal bilateral talks on climate cooperation are expected to resume as well as part of a broader package of agreements between Biden and Xi – with China previously breaking off talks in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.