TAIPEI Reuters reported the largest incursion by China's air force since January, with the island's defense ministry saying Taiwanese fighters scrambled to warn 30 aircraft in the latest uptick in tensions.
For the past two years, Taiwan, which China claims is its own territory, has complained of repeated missions by China's air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
Taiwan is calling China's repeated military activities grey zone warfare, designed to wear out Taiwan's forces by making them repeatedly scramble, and test Taiwan's responses.
The Taiwan ministry said that the latest Chinese mission included 22 fighters, electronic warfare, early warning and antisubmarine aircraft, as well as 22 fighters.
According to a map provided by the ministry, the aircraft flew in an area northeast of the Pratas.
Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn the Chinese aircraft, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, the ministry said.
It was the largest incursion since Taiwan reported 39 Chinese aircraft in its ADIZ on January 23.
There was no immediate comment from China, which has previously said such moves were drills aimed at protecting the country's sovereignty.
The military of China said last week it had recently conducted an exercise around Taiwan as a solemn warning against its collusion with the United States.
The U.S. President Joe Biden angered China by saying that if China were to attack the island, the United States would get involved militarily, as he appeared to signal a change in the U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity on Taiwan.
China is stepping up pressure on Taiwan to accept its sovereignty claims. Taiwan's government says it wants peace but will defend itself if attacked.
No shots have been fired and Chinese aircraft have not been flying in Taiwan's air space, but in its ADIZ, a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.