China has launched its largest-ever incursion into Taiwan’s air defense zone, the Taiwanese government has said.

More than 70 Chinese aircraft, including fighter jets and drones, entered the area in the past 24 hours, and 43 of them briefly crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait.

The median line is an unofficial buffer between the two sides, but one that Beijing has never officially acknowledged.

Seven Chinese navy ships were also detected near Taiwansaid the country’s defense ministry.

Shi Yi, spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Eastern Theater Command, said, “This is a firm response to the current escalation and provocation between the United States and Taiwan. .”

Shi was talking about the US defense spending bill, which described China as a strategic challenge and endorsed greater security cooperation with Taiwan.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said it sent fighter jets to deter Chinese planes, while missile systems monitored the situation.

The Chinese government says democratic Taiwan must return to China, and it has increasingly harassed the island in recent years, regularly sending planes or ships to it.

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Taiwan rejects China’s claim to sovereignty and its official news agency said there was no sense of alarm on the island over the latest developments.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen did not directly address China’s actions when she spoke with military officers on Monday morning.

But she called on Taiwan to strengthen its defense capability due to “the continued expansion of authoritarianism”.

“The more we prepare, the fewer reckless attempts at aggression there will be,” she said.

“The more united we are, the stronger and safer Taiwan will become.”

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