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China sends record 103 warplanes near Taiwan amid US visits

(Bloomberg) — China flew a record number of warplanes around Taiwan, in an apparent show of displeasure over visits by two U.S. officials.

Taiwan said it detected 103 People’s Liberation Army warplanes and nine ships nearby in the 24 hours to Monday, adding that it posed “serious challenges to security across the strait and in the region.” The number of planes was the highest in data compiled by Bloomberg going back three years.

Forty of these planes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, this is the second time in less than a week that China has sent so many planes beyond the line drawn by the United States in 1954. These Sorties deplete Taiwan’s much smaller army and reduce the time needed for war. he must react to any attack.

While China generally does not give reasons for conducting military activity around the island of 23 million that it has pledged to one day control, the most significant sorties tend to coincide with meetings between foreign and Taiwanese officials. The United States has criticized China for holding such exercises, calling them “provocative.”

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs is leading a delegation that is visiting through Wednesday. Her trip will include a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen. Hobbs plans to speak with senior economic and trade officials, as well as the business community.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. announced plans to spend $40 billion to build capacity in Arizona, although in July the chipmaker said production at a planned factory would be delayed from late 2024 to 2025 due to challenges such as lack of skilled workers and operating expenses. higher than in Taiwan.

Laurie Locascio, Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, is also visiting this week. When she met with Tsai on Monday, the president said she hoped Taiwan and the United States would have more exchanges on cybersecurity issues.

Locascio’s visit likely follows a rare gathering in the United States in April, where U.S. and Taiwanese security officials discussed how the island’s companies could adopt key U.S. security standards. defense supply chain.

French Senator Olivier Cadic is also traveling to Taiwan, intending to meet Deputy Prime Minister Cheng Wen-tsan and Wellington Koo, Secretary-General of the National Security Council.

See: US, Chinese officials meet in Malta to keep channels open

In a sign of the importance of Taiwan’s status in tensions between the United States and China, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took advantage of a meeting in Malta with national security adviser Jake Sullivan this weekend to reiterate that Beijing views the island as a red line in the relationship.

Both sides appear to have made their usual arguments on Taiwan, although Sullivan stressed that providing weapons or foreign military assistance to Taipei does not mean that the United States supports Taiwan’s independence or considers it island as a sovereign nation, according to an administration official. .

Last week, China announced it was sanctioning Northrop Grumman Corp. and a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp. for supplying arms to Taiwan. Neither company has any activities to sanction in China, so this decision is mainly symbolic.

In August, an American agency announced the sale for $500 million of equipment for F-16 fighters to be supplied by Lockheed Martin. The same agency announced in December that Northrop Grumman would provide Taiwan with a system to deploy anti-tank mines.

Taiwan warned last week that China would step up the military pressure it has exerted in recent years, pressure that is largely explained by the frustration of Tsai’s government over its failure to recognize that Taiwan is part of China.

Read more: Taiwan warns China against increasing pressure; PLA Sets Warship Record

Major General Huang Wen-chi said Tuesday that “pressure from the PLA will continue, and we believe that tomorrow’s pressure will be greater than today.” His comments came just after China sailed 20 warships near the island, another record.

–With help from Kari Lindberg.

(Updates with details of the Tsai-Locascio meeting.)

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