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China flies fighter jets near Taiwan after leader's US trip

In this image taken from video footage run Saturday, April 8, 2023 by China's CCTV, a Chinese fighter jet performs an mid-air refueling maneuver at an unspecified location.
In this image taken from video footage run Saturday, April 8, 2023 by China's CCTV, a Chinese fighter jet performs an mid-air refueling maneuver at an unspecified location. Copyright AP/CCTV
Copyright AP/CCTV
By Euronews with AP
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China sent warships and dozens of fighter jets toward Taiwan on Saturday, the Taiwanese government said. It's retaliation for a meeting between the US House of Representatives speaker and the president of the self-ruled island democracy claimed by Beijing as part of its territory.

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China sent warships and dozens of fighter jets toward Taiwan on Saturday, the Taiwanese government said, in retaliation for a meeting between the US House of Representatives speaker and the president of the self-ruled island democracy claimed by Beijing as part of its territory.

The Chinese military announced the start of three-day “combat readiness patrols” as a warning to the Taiwanese who want to make the island’s de facto independence permanent. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) gave no indication whether they might include a repeat of previous exercises with missiles fired into the sea, which disrupted shipping and airline flights.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy held talks with President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday in California, adding to a series of foreign lawmakers who have met Tsai to show support in the face of Chinese intimidation. Beijing responded Friday by imposing a travel ban and financial sanctions against American groups and individuals associated with Tsai’s US visit.

On Saturday, eight warships and 71 planes were detected near Taiwan, 45 of which flew across the middle line of the strait that separates it from the mainland, the island's Ministry of Defense said. It said they included Chengdu J-10, Shenyang J-11, and Shenyang J-16 jet fighters.

The navy planned to hold “live fire training" in Luoyuan Bay in the Fujian province opposite Taiwan, the local Maritime Authority announced. Ships were banned during the firing, which also was due to take place on five dates over the next two weeks.

Taiwan split with China in 1949 after a civil war. The ruling Communist Party says the island is obliged to rejoin the mainland, by force if necessary. Beijing says contact with foreign officials encourages Taiwanese who want formal independence, a step the ruling party says would lead to war.

AP/CCTV
In this image taken from video footage run Saturday, April 8, 2023 by China's CCTV, a Chinese ships sail in the Taiwan Strait.AP/CCTV

“This is a serious warning against the collusion and provocation between the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and external forces,” a PLA statement said. The “Joint Sword” exercises “defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Plans also called for the exercise to include a destroyer, missile boats, ballistic missiles and land-based anti-ship missiles as well as early warning, electronic warfare and tanker aircraft, according to the The Global Times, a newspaper published by the Communist Party.

The Taiwanese military said missile defense systems were activated and air and sea patrols sent to track the Chinese aircraft.

A Ministry of Defense statement said “we condemn such an irrational act that has jeopardised regional security and stability”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's government has stepped up efforts to intimidate the island by flying fighter jets and bombers nearby and firing missiles into the sea.

The United States has no official relations with Taiwan but maintains extensive informal and commercial ties. Washington is required by federal law to ensure the island of 22 million people has the means to defend itself if China attacks.

Military analysts suggest a possible Chinese strategy in the event of an attack is to try to pressure Taiwan to surrender by blocking sea and air traffic, preventing the US, Japan or other allies from intervening or sending supplies.

On Saturday, the PLA was testing its ability to dominate the sea, air, and information and to “create a situation of deterrence and suppression," the mainland newspaper The China Daily said.

Taiwan and the mainland have multibillion-dollar trade and investment ties but no official relations.

“We will never leave room for ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities in any form and will definitely take resolute measures to defeat any foreign interference,” Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian said, as reported by Xinhua News Agency.

For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.

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