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Taiwan scrambles jets as Chinese war party crosses median line for second time in days

Taiwan’s air force scrambled fighter jets Sunday after a war party of 10 Chinese aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait for the second time in days.

Taiwanese officials say they detected 24 Chinese fighter jets and bombers in the air, but only 10 crossed the median line. The line has long served as a barrier for both Tiawanese and Chinese forces, but Beijing has grown increasingly belligerent in recent months and has crossed the line multiple times.

China also deployed four warships for “joint combat readiness patrols” in the area.

The Sunday crossing comes just days after 37 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defense zone on Thursday.

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An aircraft

China sent 10 warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, leading Taiwan to scramble its own fighter jets for the second time in less than a week. (JAMESON WU/AFP via Getty Images)

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The frequent median crossings come amid a wider Chinese campaign of aggression toward Taiwan, which has seen Chinese forces surround the self-governed island to simulate an invasion.

China’s largest military operations in the region have come in response to meetings between top U.S. and Taiwanese officials. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan in August 2022, setting off the first wave of live-fire drills around the island.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also traveled to the U.S. earlier this year and met with Speaker Kevin McCarthy, setting off another wave of aggression from Beijing.

Tsai and McCarthy press conference

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., right, and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met in California earlier this year, triggering an aggressive response from China. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

Mainland China has long claimed Taiwan as its own territory. The island split from China in 1949, when democratic forces fled there after losing a civil war to the Chinese Communist Party.

President Biden’s administration has adopted a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether the U.S. would intervene militarily if China attempted to invade Taiwan. Biden himself has stated multiple times that the U.S. would do so, but White House staff have walked back the statement each time.

China argues visits by U.S. lawmakers to Taiwan infringe on the One China policy, which recognizes Beijing as the sole government of China and prevents the U.S. from holding formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Biden and Xi

President Biden’s administration has adopted a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether the U.S. would intervene militarily if China attempted to invade Taiwan. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated earlier this month that a war with China around Taiwan would be “devastating” for the global economy.

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“The whole world has a stake in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The security of commercial shipping lanes and global supply chains depends on it,” Austin said. “And so does freedom of navigation worldwide. Make no mistake: conflict in the Taiwan Strait would be devastating.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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