Taiwan has reported 38 Chinese military jets flying into its air defence zone on Friday – the largest incursion by Beijing to date.
The aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers, entered the air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in two waves, according to the defence ministry.
Taiwan’s response was to scramble its jets and deploy missile systems.
China regards democratic Taiwan as a separate province, whereas Taiwan regards itself as a sovereign state.
For more than a year, Taiwan has complained about repeated missions by China’s air force near the island.
“China has engaged in willful military aggression, endangering regional peace,” Taiwan Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang told reporters on Saturday.
The Beijing government, which is commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, has made no public comments thus far.
However, it has previously stated that such flights are necessary to protect its sovereignty and to target “collusion” between Taiwan and the US.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said in a statement that 25 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) planes entered the ADIZ during daylight hours, flying near the Pratas Islands atoll.
On Friday evening, a second wave of 13 PLA aircraft flew over the same area. They flew over the Pacific Ocean between Taiwan and the Philippines.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
According to the ministry, the Chinese aircraft included four H-6 bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons as well as an anti-submarine aircraft.
An air defence identification zone is a region outside of a country’s territory and national airspace where foreign aircraft are still identified, monitored, and controlled for national security reasons.
It is self-proclaimed and technically continues to be international airspace.
Beijing frequently sends such missions to express its displeasure with Taiwanese remarks.
It is not clear what prompted the latest mission.
China and Taiwan: The basics
- Why do China and Taiwan have poor relations? China and Taiwan were divided during a civil war in the 1940s, but Beijing insists the island will be reclaimed at some point, by force if necessary
- How is Taiwan governed? The island has its own constitution, democratically elected leaders, and about 300,000 active troops in its armed forces
- Who recognises Taiwan? Only a few countries recognise Taiwan. Most recognise the Chinese government in Beijing instead. The US has no official ties with Taiwan but does have a law which requires it to provide the island with the means to defend itself.