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China flies 71 planes near Taiwan, largest incursion since Pelosi trip

Taiwan Navy's Chi Yang-class frigate Ning Yang is shown anchored at a harbor in Keelung city, Taiwan, on Aug. 5. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE
1 of 2 | Taiwan Navy's Chi Yang-class frigate Ning Yang is shown anchored at a harbor in Keelung city, Taiwan, on Aug. 5. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE

Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Taiwan said Monday at least 71 Chinese planes and seven naval ships were detected around the self-governing island, marking Beijing's largest incursion since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited.

Of those planes, 47 were detected crossing the medial line of the Taiwan Strait into the air space of the island claimed by China, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

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President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan will call a high-level national security meeting Tuesday morning for talks about reinforcing the island's civil defense system.

Speaking at a military ceremony on Monday, Tsai emphasized that the expansion of authoritarianism has continuously affected the international order and regional peace and stability.

A top Chinese military official said Beijing was "provoked" into making the moves.

"This was a firm response to the current escalation of collusion and provocations by the U.S. and Taiwan," Senior Col. Shi Yi, a spokesman for China's Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement

Tensions between Taiwan and Beijing escalated after Pelosi visited the island on Aug. 2, sparking military drills by China, including what Taiwan claimed was a "possible simulated attack."

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The Pentagon said in a report released last month that an attempt by China to seize control of Taiwan would prove difficult for China's President Xi Jinping.

"An attempt to invade Taiwan would likely strain [China's] armed forces and invite international intervention," the report concluded. "Combined with inevitable force attrition, complexity of urban warfare, and potential insurgency, these factors make an amphibious invasion of Taiwan a significant political and military risk for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party."

Mainland China and the island of Taiwan were both ruled by the Republic of China before the ROC lost the Chinese Civil War to the Chinese Communist Party, which established the new government of the People's Republic of China in October 1949.

The ROC in turn established a temporary capital in Taipei on the island of Taiwan, a former Japanese territory, in December 1949 and served as the seat for China at the United Nations until it was replaced by the People's Republic of China in 1971 as foreign countries switched their diplomatic relations.

China views Taiwan and its 23 million residents as a wayward province and has vowed to retake it by force, if necessary. Many supporters of Taiwan have since argued that it is already an independent sovereign state separate from mainland China, which has never controlled Taiwan.

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