China’s foreign ministry said it was “firmly” opposed to the planned sale, adding that the U.S. should stop arms sales to and military contacts with Taiwan.
The U.S. is bound by law to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons, but it has a policy of “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to exactly how it would respond to Chinese aggression toward the self-ruling island. Since it established diplomatic relations with China in 1979, the U.S. has recognized Beijing as the sole legitimate government of China while maintaining unofficial relations with Taiwan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has not ruled out the use of force in achieving his goal of “reunification” with Taiwan. Taiwan has complained for the past three years or so of stepped-up Chinese military activities near the island as Beijing seeks to assert its sovereignty claims.
Taiwan reported on Thursday a second day of large-scale Chinese air force incursions into its air defense identification zone, with its defense ministry saying that during the last 24 hours it had spotted 21 aircraft.
China has said its activities in the area are justified as it seeks to defend its territorial integrity and to warn the United States against “colluding” with Taiwan, despite the anger this causes in Taipei.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said the aircraft, 17 J-10 fighters and four J-16 fighters, had flown into the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, according to a map the ministry released.
Taiwan’s forces monitored the situation, including sending up its own planes, the ministry added, using the normal phrasing for its response to such Chinese incursions.
The ministry on Wednesday reported 19 Chinese aircraft flying in Taiwan’s air defense zone.
None of the aircraft crossed the sensitive median line of the Taiwan Strait, which has served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides, but which China’s air force has been flying over almost daily since staging war games near Taiwan last August.
Taiwan last reported a large median line crossing of Chinese aircraft on Friday, when 10 planes were involved.
China has not commented on recent activities near Taiwan. In January, China said it staged combat drills around the island to “resolutely counter the provocative actions of external forces and Taiwan independence separatist forces”.
No shots have been fired and the Chinese aircraft have been flying in Taiwan’s ADIZ, not in its territorial airspace.
The ADIZ is a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that gives it more time to respond to any threats.
Taiwan’s government has repeatedly offered talks with China, but says the island will defend itself if attacked and that only the Taiwanese people can decide their own future.