China sent 24 fighter jets toward Taiwan in a large display of force Thursday, after the self-governing island announced its intention to join an 11-nation Pacific trade group that China has also applied to join. In response to this, Taiwan deployed air patrol forces to the Chinese jets and tracked them on their air defense systems, the island’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
China’s People’s Liberation Army flew fighter jets toward Taiwan twice on Thursday, once in the morning with 19 planes, and once in the afternoon with five more. Among the various jets, some of which flew in a long L-shaped path, were 12 J-16 and two J-11s, as well as bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft. Later in the day, China sent 2 J-16 and J-11 planes as well as an early warning aircraft. China has sent fighter jets toward Taiwan on an almost daily basis this past year. It stepped up its military harassment of the self-ruled island and has sent large displays of fighter jets after political events which it views as interfering with its sovereignty. Taiwan announce Thursday that it applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, setting up another potential clash with Beijing. Beijing opposes Taiwan’s involvement in international organizations. Taiwan responded by saying China had no right to decide who can join the trade pact given it is not yet a member. Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but China continues to claim Taiwan as part of its territory. Beijing opposes Taiwan’s involvement in international organizations.