The United States accused China of “provocative military activity” on Sunday after it flew dozens of military planes in Taiwanese airspace.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry tweeted that 16 fighter jets entered its air defense identification zone on Sunday, after it said 39 military jets – 20 during the day and 19 more at night – encroached on it. its airspace on Saturday.

Thirty-eight Chinese planes made incursions on Friday, which Taiwan said was the largest Chinese military aircraft operation to date. Friday was the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Sunday that the United States was “very concerned” about what it called “provocative Chinese military activity near Taiwan.” It is “destabilizing, risks miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability,” he said.

“We urge Beijing to stop its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan,” he said.

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China has frequently sent military planes to the region south of Taiwan for more than a year in what appears to be an effort to step up military and political pressure.

The air defense identification zone is the type of airspace that many countries define around their territory to monitor air traffic. It is not recognized by international law.

Beijing regards Taiwan as an illegitimate separatist province that is part of its territory. When the Communists won their civil war against the Nationalists in 1949, the Nationalists set up a rival government in Taipei.

Aviation activity has increased as Washington and Beijing disagree on a range of issues, including cybersecurity, human rights and trade.

Price said the United States’ commitment to Taiwan is “solid as a rock” and that Washington will continue to help Taipei “maintain sufficient self-defense capability.”

Beijing has not commented on the jets being sent to Taiwan. The Global Times, a state newspaper and website, reported on the incursions on Sunday.

“This consecutively broke the previous record for the scale of exercises in this area,” he said in an editorial, adding that the Taiwanese authorities “were again shocked.”

Beijing has previously said such flights protect the country’s sovereignty and are aimed at combating “collusion” between Taipei and foreign forces.

Reuters contributed.

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