Twenty Chinese fighter planes and bombers entered Taiwan's airspace and air defense identification zone on Friday in the largest and most serious incursion by Chinese pilots reported by Taiwan's Defense Ministry in Taipei.
The Defense Ministry announced that the Taiwanese Air Force deployed missiles to monitor the Chinese planes that entered from the southwest of the air defense identification zone. The Chinese pilots were warned by radio to leave the area. British newspaper The Guardian reported that several of the pilots crossed Taiwan's airspace and passed through the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines. A source close to Taipei's Defense Ministry told Reuters that the Chinese fighter planes carried out an exercise simulating an attack on U.S. Navy aircraft carriers sailing in the channel.
China has increased its military activity around Taiwan in recent months. The Chinese formation that flew in the island's airspace had four H-6K bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and 10 J-16 fighters. There is speculation that the flight was connected to the signing on Friday of the first agreement between Taipei and the new administration in Washington. The agreement establishes a "coast guard working group" that will coordinate operations with the US, after China passed a law that allows its coast guard to open fire on foreign ships.
The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but it is bound by law to assist in its defense. In addition, the US is the largest supplier of weapons to Taiwan.