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China dispatched 38 warplanes, including 18 J-16 fighter jets and two H-6 bombers, into the airspace surrounding Taiwan on Friday. This is the highest number of Chinese military aircrafts reported to breach the island’s Air Defense Identification Zone in a single day, CNN reported. However, Taiwan’s sovereign airspace was reportedly not breached.
The incident was reported amid the Martyr’s Day ceremony led by Xi Jinping, cementing his place as the most influential Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. This year’s ceremony follows commemorations of the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921. Taiwan is crucial to the foundations of the new, aggressive China. It is a territory the CCP sees as an unsettled remnant from the past.
China and Taiwan split after the Communist Party seized control of the mainland in 1949 amid a civil war. They have extensive trade and investment ties but no official relations, and China has been using increasingly threatening language toward the island while applying military, diplomatic and economic pressure against it. China claims the self-governing island democracy as its own territory and threatens to use military force to bring it under Beijing’s control.
Xi has upped that threat by sending military aircrafts into airspace near the island on a near-daily basis, while ground troops conduct drills on the coast opposite.
Beijing had recently threatened to block Taiwan’s application to join a Pacific Rim trade initiative, citing as its reason the island’s refusal to concede that it is a part of China. Taiwan announced on September 23 that it had applied join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a week after China submitted its own application to join. The 11-nation CPTPP, which took effect in 2018, includes agreements on market access, movement of labor and government procurement. Other members include Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and New Zealand. The U.K. also has started negotiating to join after it left the European Union. The CPTPP originally was called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a group promoted by then-President Barack Obama. His successor, Donald Trump, pulled out in 2017. President Joe Biden has not rejoined it.