China flies 103 military aircraft to Taiwan in a new high-profile move it calls island harassment

China has flown a new daily maximum of 103 military aircraft to Taiwan in what it sees as harassment of the island.

The ministry said the flights were detected between 6 am on Sunday and 6 am on Monday. As usual, they turned back before reaching Taiwan.

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, has conducted increasingly large military exercises in the air and waters around Taiwan as tensions between the two countries and the United States have risen. The United States is Taiwan’s main arms supplier and opposes any attempt to change Taiwan’s status by force.

The ministry called the Chinese military action “harassment” and warned that it could escalate amid the current tense situation. “We call on the Beijing authorities to take responsibility and immediately stop such destructive military operations,” it said in a statement.

China last week sent ships including the aircraft carrier Shandong into the sea near Taiwan. The exercises came shortly after US and Canadian warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from the mainland.

China unveiled plans for a joint development demonstration zone with Taiwan in China’s nearby Fujian province, trying to woo Taiwan while warning against what experts say is China’s long-standing carrot-and-stick approach.

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Taiwan and China split in 1949 when the Communists took over China during a civil war. The defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan and set up their own government on the island.

The island is self-governing, although only a few foreign countries have granted it official diplomatic recognition. The United States maintains formal relations with China, among others, while maintaining a representative office in Taiwan.

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AP’s Asia-Pacific coverage can be found at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific

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