National Newswatch

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China sent 19 fighter jets toward Taiwan in a large display of force Thursday, after the self-governing island announced its intention to join an 11-nation Pacific trade group that China has also applied to join.

Taiwan deployed air patrol forces in response to the Chinese jets and tracked them on their air defense systems, the island's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Among the various jets, some of which flew in a long L-shaped path, were 12 J-16 and two J-11s, as well as bombers and an anti-submarine aircraft.

China has sent fighter jets toward Taiwan on an almost daily basis this past year. It stepped up its military harassment of the self-ruled island and has sent large displays of fighter jets after political events in which it views as interfering with its sovereignty.

Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but China continues to claim Taiwan as part of its territory. Beijing opposes Taiwan’s involvement in international bodies.

Taiwan announce Thursday that it applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, setting up another potential clash with Beijing.

China’s military sent 18 planes towards Taiwan last year when a top U.S. diplomat visited the island and met with top government officials. In June, it sent 28 warplanes after leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations issued a statement calling for a peaceful resolution of cross-Taiwan Strait issues.

The Associated Press

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