03:56 GMT03 March 2021
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    Taiwan has repeatedly accused Beijing of encroaching upon the island's air defence identification zone as tensions between the two sides escalated over the past few years.

    Taiwan's Defence Ministry stated on Friday that four Chinese J-16 fighters and four JH-7 fighter-bombers, as well as an electronic warfare aircraft, were spotted near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea. According to the statement, Taiwanese Air Force aircraft were scrambled to intercept the Chinese planes. At the same time, "radio warnings [were] issued and air defence missile systems [were] deployed to monitor the activity".

    Beijing has not commented on the situation so far.

    Chinese Ministry of National Defense
    Two Chengdu J-16 Fighters of China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)

    The People's Republic of China and Taiwan (officially, the Republic of China) have had separate governments since the end of the civil war in 1949. Relations between Beijing and Taipei remain tense, especially since the suspension of any diplomatic contacts between them in 2016.

    Mainland China considers Taiwan to be a wayward province under the One China principle and hopes for reunification. However, Taiwan rejects those claims and maintains informal relations with the United States, as Washington sells weapons to Taipei and conducts military drills in the area.

    South China Sea, China, Taiwanese Ministry of national Defense, Taiwan
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