CHINA has sent fighter jets across the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait at the same time the US health chief Alex Azar visited the island to offer President Donald Trump’s support.
The show of force comes after China, which claims the island as its own, condemned the visit after a period of sharply deteriorating relations between Beijing and the US. China, which threatened unspecified retaliation to the trip, flew J-11 and J-10 fighter aircraft briefly onto Taiwan’s side of the sensitive and narrow strait that separates it from its giant neighbour, at around 9am (1am GMT), shortly before Mr Azar met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
The aircraft were tracked by land-based Taiwanese anti-aircraft missiles and were “driven out” by patrolling Taiwanese aircraft, the air force said in a statement released by the defence ministry.
China’s defence ministry did not immediately comment.
It comes at the same time China warned it would apply sanctions against 11 US citizens including officials from Monday in response to Washington’s move to impose sanctions on 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials whom it accused of curtailing political freedoms in the city.
A senior Taiwan official familiar with the government’s security planning said China was obviously “targeting” Mr Azar’s visit with a “very risky” move given the Chinese jets were in range of Taiwan’s missiles.
The incursion was only the third time since 2016 that Taiwan has said Chinese jets had crossed the strait’s median line.
The Trump administration has made strengthening its support for the democratic island a priority, amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, and has boosted arms sales.
Standing in front of two Taiwanese flags, Mr Azar told President Tsai in the Presidential Office: “It’s a true honour to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from President Trump to Taiwan.” …. Read more (and more News on China)