China Flies 38 Warplanes Near Taiwan, 6 Navy Vessels in Area

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File
A security guard stands near a sculpture of the Chinese Communist Party flag at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in May 2022 in Beijing.

TAIPEI (AP) — China’s military flew 38 fighter jets and other warplanes near Taiwan, the Taiwanese defense ministry said Friday, in the largest such flight display since the large military exercise in which it simulated sealing off the island earlier in the month.

Six navy vessels were also spotted in the area from 6 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday as part of China’s long-running campaign of intimidation against the self-ruled island democracy that Beijing claims as part of its territory.

Nineteen of the aircraft flew across the midline in the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from the mainland, the ministry said. It said they included five SU-30 and two J-16 aircraft. One drone, a TB-001, circled the island, according to a diagram from the Defense Ministry.

China held exercises simulating the sealing off the island after the sensitive meeting April 5 between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California. China opposes any exchanges at the official level between Taiwan and other governments.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with the Communist Party in control of the mainland. The island has never been part of the People’s Republic of China, but Beijing says it must unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.