TOKYO, May 15 (KUNA) - A total of 45 Chinese military aircraft and six naval vessels were detected around the Taiwan Strait over the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, the highest single-day number this year, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense said, according to the Taipei-based Central News Agency.
Among them, 26 airplanes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan's northern and southwestern air defense identification zones between 6 a.m. Tuesday (2200 Monday GMT) and 6 a.m. Wednesday, the ministry said in a press release. The Taiwanese military had been closely monitoring the situation with activating combat air patrol aircraft, Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems, it said. The median line of the Taiwan Strait has functioned for many years as a de facto maritime border.
It was the largest number of Chinese warplanes around Taiwan since last September, when Beijing sent 103 military planes in a 24-hour period, 40 of which crossed the median line and entered the island's air defense identification zone. Taiwan's air defense identification zone -- a self-declared area in which a country reserves the right to identify, locate and control approaching foreign aircraft -- is not considered territorial airspace under international law. The deployment comes less than a week before Lai Ching-te will be inaugurated as Taiwan's president next Monday amid ongoing tensions with China. China and Taiwan separated after a civil war in 1949, but Beijing sees the island as its territory. (end) mk.aa