China made its second-biggest incursion of the year into Taiwan’s air defense zone with the entry of 30 planes, including 20 fighter craft, the Taiwanese government said.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said late Monday that it had mobilized its own aircraft and missile defense systems to monitor the latest Chinese activity.

Beijing has in recent years begun making major inroads into Taiwan’s defense zone to show its annoyance with the island’s self-government and keep its aging fleet of fighter jets under pressure.

Democratically governed Taiwan lives under constant threat of invasion from China, which sees the island as part of its territory and has vowed to take it over one day, even by force if necessary.

The United States last week accused Beijing of escalating tensions with the island. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited the air raids as an example of China’s “increasingly proactive rhetoric and activity.”

Blinken’s remarks came after US President Joe Biden appeared to break decades of ambiguous US policy by stating that Washington would defend Taiwan militarily if attacked by China.

The White House later indicated that it maintains its policy of supplying Taiwan with weapons while recognizing China’s legal sovereignty and expressing “strategic ambiguity” about whether its troops would intervene in a conflict.

Monday’s raid was the largest since January 23, when 39 Chinese planes entered the air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

ADIZ is distinct from Taiwan’s airspace and includes a sector that overlaps with part of China’s air defense identification zone.

A flight map released by the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense indicates that the planes entered the southwestern part of the ADIZ before exiting again.

Taiwan recorded 969 incursions of Chinese aircraft into its ADIZ last year, according to an AFP database, more than double the 380 in 2020.

So far in 2022, Taiwan has reported 465 incursions, an increase of 50% compared to the same period last year.

A military pilot died today when a Taiwanese Air Force AT-3 training fighter crashed while on a training flight in Kaohsiung, in the south of the island, official sources reported.

The signal from the AT-3, flown by Lieutenant Hsu Ta-Chun in solo training exercises, disappeared from the radar at 8:08 a.m. local time (1:08 a.m. GMT), while it was in the airspace of the district of the city of Gangshan, five minutes after taking off from an undetermined location, according to Efe from the Taiwanese agency CNA.

Responding to reports of an unidentified plane crash, the district fire department later found the wreckage of the crashed AT-3 and the body of 23-year-old Hsu.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen ordered the Ministry of Defense to conduct a full investigation of the incident.

Taiwanese Air Force training jets, a total of 63 built in the country by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation in the 1980s, have been involved in 15 accidents that killed ten pilots.

Since 2020, according to CNA, there have been seven plane and helicopter accidents of the island’s air force that caused the death of thirteen soldiers.

Last March, a Mirage-2000 fighter plane from his air force crashed on the southeastern coast of the island, two months after an Air Force F-16V also crashed during routine training.

This event comes a day after the Chinese Air Force carried out the largest incursion since January into the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

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