China sends planes close to Taiwan, Japan

China sends planes close to Taiwan, Japan

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A member of the Royal Australian Air Force shoots a sniper rifle during COPE North 19 Feb. 20, 2019, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. COPE North is an annual multilateral U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored field training exercise focused on combat air forces large-force employment and mobility air forces humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training to enhance interoperability among U.S., Australian and Japanese forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaac Johnson)

THE PENTAGON — The Pentagon said Monday that China’s foray into Taiwan air space is “of grave concern” and warned Beijing further provocations could jeopardize the delicate political balance of the region.

Taiwan’s military scrambled fighters after two Chinese J-11 jets crossed the agreed upon border within the Taiwan Strait, known as the median line, on Sunday.

The incursion by China against Taiwan came one day after the Japanese Self-Defense Force said it put airborne its fighters after Chinese planes coursed between Japan’s islands of Okinawa and Miyako on Saturday, according to news reports.

“The United States opposes unilateral actions by any party aimed at altering the status quo, including any resort to force or other forms of coercion,” Lt. Col. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson, told TMN on Monday.

“Beijing’s efforts to unilaterally alter the status quo are harmful and do not contribute to regional stability but rather they undermine the framework that has enabled peace, stability, and development for decades,” he said.

Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province that eventually will be absorbed by the mainland. It has avoided deliberately crossing the median line for almost two decades, according to media reports.

The Taiwan Strait empties into the South China Sea at its southern end, an area contested by China, Taiwan and other entities. The U.S. has increased its air and sea presence this year in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, to the ire of Beijing.

“Taiwan is a reliable partner, a democratic role model, and a force for good in the world,” Eastburn said.  “The United States urges China to abstain from coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.”

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