August 26, 2014 / 9:48 AM / 5 years ago

Taiwan says Chinese military planes breached its airspace

A Chinese navy frigate is seen on the horizon in waters close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea July 15, 2014. REUTERS/Martin Petty

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan said on Tuesday it had scrambled jets to intercept two Chinese military aircrafts, which breached its airspace four times.

The incident occurred on Monday and the Chinese planes, identified as Yun-8 transport aircraft, left without incident after Taiwanese fighter jets warned them off, Xiong Ho-ji, major general of Taiwan’s Air Force Combatant Command, told reporters.

China’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to Xiong, the Chinese aircraft were headed in the direction of the South China Sea and the Philippines.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war in 1949, and China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control.

While relations have improved under the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou, who has signed a series of landmark economic deals since taking office in 2008, deep political and military suspicions remain.

The breach of Taiwanese air space comes a week after the Pentagon lodged a diplomatic complaint with China about the conduct of a Chinese fighter jet, which it said came within meters of a U.S. Navy patrol plane.

China has said the criticism is groundless and its pilot maintained a safe distance from the U.S plane.

Ties between China and many of its neighbors have been strained by a string of territorial disputes.

Reporting By Damon Lin and J.R. Wu in TAIPEI and Megha Rajagopalan in BEIJING; Editing by Miral Fahmy

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