Two Chinese fighter jets violated the airspace of Taiwan on Sunday, prompting the island to scramble its own fighters and warn the Chinese planes away. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton denounced China’s behavior on Monday as a “provocation” that will only strengthen Taiwan’s resolve.
According to the Taiwanese Defense Ministry, two Chinese J-11 fighters crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait at 11:00 am on Sunday, approaching to within 115 miles of Taiwan. The Defense Ministry said the flight violated a “long-held tacit agreement” between China and Taiwan to keep their military aircraft on opposite sides of the center line.
The Taiwanese scrambled their own fighters in response, leading to a ten-minute standoff before China’s planes withdrew.
“Such an approach by China is not only a lack of international responsibility and deliberate provocation of regional security and stability, but also blatant destruction of the status quo in the strait,” a spokesman for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Sunday.
President Tsai herself said in a Facebook post on Monday that she has ordered a “forceful expulsion” of any Chinese aircraft that violate the median line in the future.
The Taiwanese government said China’s incursion was a “blatant destruction of the status quo” and an “intentional, reckless, and provocative action.”
According to Taiwanese media, the last time Chinese planes crossed the median line was in 2011, and that incident was seen as a mistake.
Japan said on Saturday that it also scrambled fighters over the weekend in response to a squadron of Chinese bombers, fighters, and support aircraft passing near its islands. In that incident, the Chinese planes remained within international airspace.
“Chinese military provocations won’t win any hearts or minds in Taiwan, but they will strengthen the resolve of people everywhere who value democracy,” U.S. National Security Adviser said on Monday afternoon.
“The Taiwan Relations Act and our commitment are clear,” Bolton added, referring to the 1979 law that commits the United States to assist Taiwan with its defense.
China’s state-controlled Global Times on Monday quoted anonymous “experts” who blamed mounting tensions in the Taiwan Strait on the United States.
“All of our military strength is used to tell the U.S. to stop where it should stop. The island of Taiwan causes trouble because the U.S. supports it. When the U.S. calms down, it will calm down,” said one of these Chinese “experts.”