China Buzzes Taiwan With Unusually Large Show Of Force Involving 18 Aircraft

Another top American official is on a three day visit to Taiwan, and China has made its anger known by once again buzzing the island with fighter jets. But this time it was an almost unprecedented show of air power in recent times.

Just a day after US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach arrived in Taipei for talks on Thursday, China sent what it called a “necessary response” in the form of an usually large group of 18 jets flying near the island.

Taiwan confirmed it was 18 fighters, which defense officials said was far more than prior such encounters, in response to which Taiwan scrambled its own fighters.

The defense ministry described in an English statement: “September 18, two H-6 bombers, eight J-16 fighters, four J-10 fighters and four J-11 fighters crossed the midline of the TaiwanStrait and entered Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ.” And further: “ROCAF scrambled fighters, and deployed air defense missile system to monitor the activities.”

From a prior February encounter involving a Chinese H-6 bomber in Taiwan's airspace, via AFP.

China's defense ministry described of the latest provocative action over the island it claims as it's own:

“They are a reasonable, necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In response, Taiwan said it loaded some of its F-16 fighters with missiles to be ready for possible escalation.

US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Krach is the most senior US official who has visited the island in decades. But Beijing is apparently attempting to lay down a 'red line' over fears Washington may be readying an even more visible top US delegation diplomatic trip.

Hu Xijin of China's state-run Global Times wrote of the scenario, “If the US secretary of state or defense secretary visits Taiwan, People’s Liberation Army fighters should fly over Taiwan island, and directly exercise in the skies above it.”