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Taiwan sends jets to shadow Chinese bombers over island


Taiwan has scrambled fighter jets to shadow Chinese bombers conducting a drill around the self-ruled island which is also reeling from Burkina Faso’s move to cut diplomatic ties with Taipei.

Taiwan’s air force said in a statement that it scrambled aircraft on Friday to monitor two Chinese H-6 bombers flying over the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan and the Miyako Strait, near Japan’s Okinawa Island.

“We are fully monitoring the situation and taking efficient responsive measures to ensure defense security,” said the statement.

Relations have deteriorated between Beijing and Taipei since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power two years ago as her government refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of “one China”.

Tsai’s tenure has seen the loss of three allies to China, with the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Sao Tome and Principe all switching allegiance since 2016.

The scrambling came only a day after Burkina Faso cuts ties with Taiwan, becoming the second country to break off diplomatic relations in one month in favor of China.

It is still not known if Beijing would establish diplomatic ties with the West African country, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang welcomed Burkina Faso’s decision to “join the big family of Chinese-African friendship and cooperation on the basis of the ‘One China’ principle.”

A J15 fighter jet landing on China’s sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, during a drill at sea on April 24, 2018. (AFP)

Earlier this month, the Dominican Republic announced it had severed ties with Taiwan and switched its allegiance to Beijing.

President Tsai  reacted angrily to the move, which has left her government with only 18 diplomatic allies around the world.

Tsai’s party has traditionally favored independence from China and on Thursday she said the island would “not cower at all in the face of pressure from Beijing.”

“This is a warning to the Chinese government: This behavior is detrimental to cross-strait relations and China’s international image, and does nothing to ease the international community’s concerns about China,” she said in a statement.

“China’s suppression will only make Taiwan’s partnerships in the international community even closer. We will never give in,” Tsai added.

China and Taiwan split amid a civil war in 1949, but Beijing’s leadership pursues their reunification.

In 1979, the US adopted the “One China” policy of recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.

The “One China” policy refers to the diplomatic acknowledgement that there is only one state called China, despite the existence of two governments — one in China and another on the island of Taiwan.

Beijing has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate any form of activity which attempts to separate the self-ruled island from the mainland and that it would thoroughly protect its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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