China conducted a new round of military exercises near Taiwan over the weekend, forcing Taipei to scramble planes at one point to respond to an intrusion into its air defense zone, according to a report Monday.
Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said in a statement that naval and air force personnel conducted exercises over the weekend to the east and southwest of Taiwan to “further test and improve the joint combat capability of multiple services and arms,” Reuters reported.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said China deployed bombers, fighters and anti-submarine aircraft.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, added that its air force had to scramble planes on Friday to confront 18 Chinese aircraft that entered the defense zone. Other incursions were reported Saturday and Sunday.
Taiwan has warned for several years that China has been carrying out increasingly provocative military actions.
Tensions between the two countries have escalated in the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, with Taipei fearing Beijing may try to pull off a similar attack.
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters Monday that China poses a threat to the island nation, but insisted that “we have the determination to defend our country.”
US lawmakers have seen the invasion of Ukraine in part as a reason to increase weapons sales to Taiwan.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last week introduced a bill that would fast-track arms transfers, increase training and strengthen relations between the US and Taiwanese militaries.
“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is not the first time an authoritarian regime invaded its neighbor and, unfortunately, it won’t be the last,” Rubio said in a statement, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“An invasion of Taiwan could happen within this decade. Taiwan needs our support, and my bill will make Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party think twice before launching a foolish invasion,” he added.