A Taiwanese destroyer monitors Chinese military activity around the island in this undated photograph.

A Taiwanese destroyer monitors Chinese military activity around the island in this undated photograph. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense)

A surge of Chinese military activity in the Taiwan Strait continued Wednesday as dozens of aircraft crossed the waterway’s median line, according to Taiwan’s National Defense Ministry.

Taiwan monitored 35 aircraft — including fighter jets, military transports, unmanned aerial vehicles and surveillance aircraft — on Wednesday, 28 of which entered the island’s southwestern air defense identification zone, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The ministry tasked its own fighter jets, warships and missile defense systems with responding, the ministry said on X.

The waves of aircraft marked the fourth day of China’s sudden increase in military activity around Taiwan. Sunday and Monday, 39 Chinese aircraft and 13 ships were active around the island, according to earlier posts by the ministry. Taiwan’s ships and defense systems tracked another 22 aircraft and 20 vessels on Tuesday.

China’s heightened activity is probably its response to the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson and the Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa transiting the strait together on Saturday, said Norah Huang, director for international relations at the Prospect Foundation, a security and foreign affairs think tank in Taipei, on Tuesday.

The Pentagon is monitoring the situation and urged Beijing to “cease its military, diplomatic, economic and legal pressure against Taiwan,” spokesman John Supple told Stars and Stripes.

“The U.S. and Canada transit this week was in accordance with international law,” he said by email Tuesday. “We will not be deterred from operating safely and responsibly in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific, consistent with international law.”

China considers the 110-mile-long Taiwan Strait to be its territorial waters, and Beijing’s actions were intended to “back up” that claim, Huang told Stars and Stripes by email Tuesday.

Beijing also considers Taiwan, a functional democracy, to be a breakaway province that must be reunified with the mainland.

Taiwan also tracked the Shandong, China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, as it passed about 60 nautical miles southeast of Taiwan’s southernmost point on Monday and continued into the western Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the island’s military said on X.

To the northeast, eight Chinese warships in two groups passed Monday through the Miyako Strait on Monday, according to Japan’s Joint Staff. The international waterway links the East China and the Philippine seas and is flanked by the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa.

Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election in January could be another motive for China to step up military activity around the island, Huang said. Taiwan anticipates similar “intimidation maneuvers” as the election campaigns go into full swing, she said.

Huang said the Shandong’s presence serves as a reminder that China aims to project “its power beyond the first island chain.”

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Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.

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