HONG KONG — Taiwan Taiwan sharply criticised China Saturday, after dozens of military aircraft flew into its air defence zone in what it called the largest incursion from Beijing to date.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that 20 aircraft, all fighters apart from two anti-submarine aircraft flew in the vicinity of the the Pratas Islands on Saturday.

That came less than 24 hours after the ministry said that 38 Chinese warplanes flew into its air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, on Friday. This airspace, which many countries use to track air traffic and is not recognized internationally, is one that is defined around their territory by several countries.

Friday’s incursion surpassed the previous peak of 28 Chinese military planes that flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone in June, the ministry said. “HTMO_ China has been committing military aggression and threatening regional peace,” Taiwan Premier Su Tseng Chang told reporters Saturday morning.

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The first wave of incursions on Friday comprised 18 J-16 and four Su-30 fighter jets plus two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft, Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement.

The second was made up of 10 J-16s, 2 H-6s and an early warning aircraft, it said in a separate statement. According to a ministry map, the first batch of Chinese aircraft flew in an area near the Pratas islands, with the bombers flying close to the atoll.

The second group flew into the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan and the Philippines. This waterway is a critical waterway linking the Pacific with the disputable South China Sea ,. A second map was also shown.

Both incursions came as Beijing celebrated the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Taiwan’s defence ministry stated that it sent combat aircraft in order to warn off the Chinese planes, and that missile systems were used to track them.

China is yet to comment on the exercise. However, the Global Times, a state newspaper and website reported on Friday’s incursion.

The escalation comes against a backdrop of Washington’s worsening relations with Beijing, and its closer ties with Taipei.

China views Taiwan as an illegitimate breakaway province which is part of China’s territory. When the civil war in China between the communists and nationalists ended in 1949 with the former triumphant, the latter set up a rival government in Taipei.

Since the 1970s the U.S. has officially only recognized Beijing, but has since become Taiwan’s main arms supplier and international backer.

Friday’s mission was made after Beijing criticised Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Wu is an outspoken supporter for the island’s democratic efforts against China. In a Thursday statement, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office claimed Wu was “frantically making Taiwan independence speech” on the international stage.

After’s China’s military display on Friday, Wu tweeted from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ account that it “wasn’t a good day.”

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