Taiwan scrambled to warn 39 Chinese aircraft in air defence zone

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Taiwan scrambled to warn 39 Chinese aircraft in air defence zone

Taiwan reported its largest incursion since October by China's air force in its air defence zone, with the island's defence ministry saying Taiwanese fighters scrambled to warn 39 aircraft in the latest uptick in tensions.

Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has complained for more than a year of repeated missions by China's air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

Taiwan calls China's repeated military activities "grey zone warfare," designed to both 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 34 fighters plus four electronic warfare aircraft and a single bomber.

According to the 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.

There was no immediate comment from China, which has previously said such moves were drills aimed at protecting the country's sovereignty.

Taiwan's government says it wants peace but will defend itself if attacked.

It is not clear what could have prompted Sunday's activities. China often times them to coincide with visits of senior foreign dignitaries to Taiwan, or to coincide with certain key dates.

148 Chinese air force planes were reported in the southern and southwest part of its air defence zone over a four day period beginning on October 1, the same day China marked a major patriotic holiday, National Day.

Taiwan has reported almost daily Chinese air force forays into the same airspace since the October incursions, but the number of planes on Sunday was the largest on a single day since the October incursions.

No shots have been fired and Chinese aircraft have not been flying in Taiwan's air space, but in its ADIZ, a broader area that Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.