The Chinese military sent 18 planes, including fighter jets, over the Taiwan Strait in an unusually large show of force on Friday as a senior US envoy held a day of closed-door meetings on the self-governing island claimed by China.
Chinese fighter jets appeared in Taiwanese airspace from four directions, media reports from Taipei said, as Beijing launched maritime and airspace drills near the island on Friday, leading Taiwan to scramble its own warplanes. Taiwan’s defence ministry said two bombers and 16 fighter jets from China crossed into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.
The “real combat” drills come as Keith Krach, US undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and environment, arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, and will attend the memorial service for former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui on Saturday. Lee, who died in July, is known on the mainland as the “godfather of Taiwan secessionism”.
“We sent the delegation to a funeral and the Chinese have apparently responded by military blustering. I’ll leave it at that,” US secretary of state Mike Pompeo told reporters during a visit to Guyana.