Chinese military aircraft breach Taiwan airspace ahead of Presidential inauguration

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Taiwan’s defense ministry has reported a significant escalation in tensions with China as 21 Chinese military aircraft were detected around Taiwan from 8:15 am (0015 GMT) on Saturday, April 20. This alarming development occurs just a month before the May 20 inauguration of Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te, underscoring the heightened military posturing in the region.

According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, of the 21 Chinese aircraft detected, 17 crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the island’s northern, central, and southwestern air defense identification zones (ADIZ). These aircraft were accompanied by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessels in a coordinated combat patrol operation. The median line, though not recognized by Beijing, has traditionally acted as a buffer in the narrow 180-kilometer (110-mile) waterway separating Taiwan from mainland China.

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In response to the Chinese military maneuvers, Taiwan has activated its joint surveillance systems and dispatched appropriate assets to monitor and respond to the situation. The island’s armed forces remain vigilant as the geopolitical stakes continue to rise, reflecting ongoing tensions between Taipei and Beijing. Beijing’s stance remains firm as it does not acknowledge the median line and continues to claim self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, never renouncing the use of force to achieve unification.

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The incident is particularly provocative as it comes at a time of political transition in Taiwan with Vice President Lai Ching-te set to assume the presidency. Known for his earlier vocal support for Taiwanese independence, Lai’s election has been sharply criticized by China, which brands him a “dangerous separatist.” The tension is further exacerbated by recent moves by China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC), which announced new air routes close to Taiwanese-controlled islands, heightening concerns over flight safety and regional stability.

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This show of force by the Chinese military could be seen as a clear message to the incoming Taiwanese administration and its allies. The frequent breaches of the median line and aggressive posturing reflect China’s strategic intentions to assert its claims over Taiwan, despite international calls for peaceful resolution. These developments may influence regional security dynamics significantly, as Taiwan continues to seek support from international allies amid growing threats.

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