By Sui-Lee Wee
China has rejected Taiwan’s claim that two Chinese military aircraft had breached Taiwan’s airspace four times, saying it was a “routine flight”.
Taiwan scrambled its jets to intercept two Chinese military aircraft, identified as Yun-8 transport aircraft, on Monday. The Chinese planes left without incident, Xiong Ho-ji, major general of Taiwan’s Air Force Combatant Command, told reporters on Tuesday.
“Our military aircraft carried out a routine flight on the 25th in the relevant airspace, there was no occurrence of any abnormality,” China’s Defence Ministry said in a faxed statement to Reuters late on Tuesday.
The latest incident risked hurting ties between China and Taiwan, which have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war in 1949. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control.
While relations have improved under the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou, who has signed a series of landmark economic deals since taking office in 2008, deep political and military suspicions remain.
The breach of Taiwanese air space comes a week after the Pentagon lodged a diplomatic complaint with China about the conduct of a Chinese fighter jet, which it said came within metres of a US Navy patrol plane.
China has said the criticism is groundless and its pilot maintained a safe distance from the US plane.