Chinese Troops Close In On Taiwan, Reports Suggest

( On the same day that Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan’s air force scrambled to warn away nine Chinese aircraft that entered its air defense zone.

According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, this latest incursion involved eight Chinese J-16 fighters and one Y-8 reconnaissance plane. The aircraft flew over an area to the northeast of the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

Taiwan has been keeping a close eye on the events unfolding in Ukraine out of concern that China may take advantage of the crisis to move against the island. While Taiwan hasn’t reported any unusual movements by Chinese forces thus far, the government in Taipei has increased its alert level.

Over the weekend, a US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait as part of what the US Navy calls routine activity. However, China has called the move “provocative.”

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet confirmed that the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson was conducting “routine” transit through international waters in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday.

Nicholas Lingo, the spokesman for the 7th Fleet said the USS Ralph Johnson’s transit through the Taiwan Strait “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Saturday’s transit through the Taiwan Strait was the first by US naval vessels since November.

A spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army which monitored the passage of the USS Ralph Johnson called the move a “provocative act.”

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said its forces monitored the US ship’s passage as it sailed in a northerly direction through the Strait and observed nothing out of the ordinary.

On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry dismissed the comparisons between Ukraine and Taiwan.

After British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the conflict in Ukraine may put Taiwan at greater risk from China, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed Johnson’s remarks saying, “Taiwan is not Ukraine.”

Speaking from Beijing on Wednesday, Hua said, it is an “indisputable legal and historical fact” that Taiwan has always been a part of China.