Chinese air force jets for a brief moment crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait on Monday. They were tracked by Taiwanese missiles, said Taiwan’s government as U.S. health chief Alex Azar visited the island to extend President Donald Trump’s support.
Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, the highest-level U.S. official to visit China in four decades. China, which claims the island as its own, condemned the visit which comes after a span of sharply deteriorating relations between China and the United States.
China, which had promised retaliation to the trip, flew J-11 and J-10 fighter aircraft briefly onto Taiwan’s side of the narrow strait that separates it from its huge neighbour, at around 9 am (0100 GMT), shortly before Azar met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s air force said. The aircraft were tracked by land-based Taiwanese anti-aircraft missiles and were driven out , the air force said in a statement released by the defence ministry.
A senior Taiwan official familiar with the government’s security planning told Reuters that China was obviously “targeting” Azar’s visit with a “very risky” move given the Chinese jets were in the range of Taiwan’s missiles. The Trump administration has prioritised strengthening its support for the democratic island between Washington and Beijing. It has also boosted arms sales, he said.