While the world focused on the Russian incursion into Ukraine, China sent military aircraft to probe Taiwanese airspace for the second day in a row.
Eight Chinese J-16 fighters and one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance aircraft were issued radio warnings after entering Taiwan’s air defense zone to the southwest of the self-governed island Thursday, Feb. 24. In response, Taiwan’s air defense missile systems were set to monitor the flights, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.
Chinese aircraft briefly crossing into Taiwan’s air defense zone is not uncommon. Two Chinese fighters executed a similar flight path Wednesday. In total, 49 Chinese aircraft have crossed into the zone in February.
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) February 24, 2022
China has long claimed Taiwan as part of its national territory and has increased military operations near the island in recent years. In a press conference Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying referenced the Ukraine crisis as a backdrop to reassert Chinese claims, saying Taiwan “is not Ukraine” but rather that “Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China’s territory.”
Speaking prior to the Russian invasion, Hua kept her comments neutral on Ukraine, saying the Chinese government’s stance is that sanctions don’t solve problems. She noted that the US has had more than 100 sanctions against Russia since 2011.
“Have the US sanctions solved any problem? Is the world a better place because of those sanctions? Will the Ukraine issue resolve itself thanks to the US sanctions on Russia?” Hua said. “Will European security be better guaranteed thanks to the US sanctions on Russia? We hope relevant sides will give this some serious thought and strive to resolve issues through dialogue and consultation.”