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Taiwan detects 26 Chinese planes and five ships around the island

TAIPEI – Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on May 3 that it had detected 26 Chinese aircraft and five warships around the self-ruled island in the previous 24 hours.

The raids come weeks before the May 20 inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, whom China considers a dangerous separatist.

A Defense Ministry statement said 17 of the planes crossed the median line and entered Taiwan’s central and northern air defense identification zone, or Adiz.

The line divides the Taiwan Strait, a narrow 180-kilometer waterway that separates the island from mainland China.

Beijing, which does not recognize the line, claims democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Under the administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, tensions between Beijing and Taipei have increased as she and her government reject China’s claim to the island.

His deputy, Vice President Lai, won the island’s presidential election in January despite warnings from Beijing that it would bring “war and decay” to Taiwan.

The latest raids come a day after Manila summoned a top Chinese envoy to protest a water cannon incident that damaged two Philippine ships during a patrol in the South China Sea.

A coast guard ship and another government ship were damaged in the April 30 incident near the disputed Scarborough Shoal, according to the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Manila and Beijing have a long history of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and the neighbors have been involved in several maritime incidents in recent months as they assert their rival claims in the strategic waterway.

The dispute comes as the United States and the Philippines conduct joint military exercises, including near potential flashpoints in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.

The joint exercises involve a simulation of recapturing enemy-occupied islands in areas off Taiwan. AFP