U.S. vows support to Taiwan as Chinese incursions enter Day 2

Aircraft carrier enters South China Sea to promote ‘freedom of the seas’

January 24, 2021 10:22 pm | Updated 10:22 pm IST - BEIJING

Renewed tensions:  A file photo of a F/A-18F Super Hornet taking off from the deck of  USS Theodore Roosevelt .

Renewed tensions: A file photo of a F/A-18F Super Hornet taking off from the deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt .

A total of 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighter jets, entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Sunday, the island’s Defence Ministry said, the second day of incursions by China.

A map provided by the Ministry showed the Chinese aircraft again flew in between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea.

‘Intimidation’ bid

The U.S. State Department has said it was concerned by China’s “pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours, including Taiwan.”

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives,” Ned Price, a spokesman for the department, said in the statement.

The State Department statement said Washington will continue to deepen ties with Taiwan and ensure its defense from Chinese threats, while supporting a peaceful resolution of issues between the sides. Meanwhile, a U.S. aircraft carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea “to ensure freedom of the seas, build partnerships that foster maritime security”, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said China on Saturday sent eight bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and four fighter jets into its air defence identification zone just southwest of the island. The Ministry said China on Sunday sent another 15 military aircraft of various types into the same area.

Missiles deployed

The Ministry said Taiwan responded by scrambling fighters, broadcasting warnings by radio and “deploying air defence missile systems to monitor the activity.”

There was no immediate Chinese response.

The overflights were part of a long-standing pattern of incursions aimed at pressuring the government of President Tsai Ing-wen into caving to Beijing’s demand that she recognise Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory.

They come on the heels of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, emphasising the island’s enduring position in the panoply of divisive issues between the sides that also include human rights, trade disputes and, most recently, questions about China’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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