Taiwan scrambles jets as Chinese aircraft move in ‘risky’ swoop

Image copyright EPA Image caption Xi and Tsai spoke by phone ahead of the summit with their top brass Taiwan has scrambled jets to meet a pair of Chinese fighter jets on patrol off…

Taiwan scrambles jets as Chinese aircraft move in 'risky' swoop

Image copyright EPA Image caption Xi and Tsai spoke by phone ahead of the summit with their top brass

Taiwan has scrambled jets to meet a pair of Chinese fighter jets on patrol off its southern coast, in a clear reminder of the dangers of any military buildup on the island.

The air force said in a statement that it had “successfully scrambled” on Thursday to intercept two P-3C Orion aircraft for violating “the airspace of the Republic of China”, as Taiwan is officially known.

The high-powered jets of the People’s Liberation Army also conducted surveillance flights over parts of the Taiwan Strait.

The military has recently said it is testing a more modern model.

“Taiwan is a normal country and we’re the frontline countries,” Weiwei Lin, a political scientist from the National Taiwan University told Reuters news agency.

“For any close neighbour, including China, the Taiwan Strait is a frontier.”

Warning

Last November, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry revealed a raft of major defence spending cuts, urging the new government to reconsider.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping

When the Chinese military conducted a similar activity in September, it claimed it had established a presence in the strait.

A senior Taiwan defence official warned the warning was an indication of possible provocation.

The People’s Liberation Army has cut staff at its headquarters in Taipei, a Reuters report says.

At the summit in Beijing on Friday, Mr Xi and Mr Tsai discussed moving forward with “the development of relations between the two sides”, the Chinese president’s office said.

The statement came after the leaders of both countries held an unprecedented first meeting last month on the sidelines of the Belt and Road summit in Beijing.

There has been much speculation over a possible deal between the two sides to formally recognise the “one China” principle.

It would cement decades of ambiguity, even if no formal change in relationship has been agreed.

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