Taiwan has accused China of deploying 43 military planes and seven ships near the self-ruled island.
It is the latest sign that Beijing plans no let-up in its campaign of harassment, threats and intimidation.
Taiwan’s defence department said the figure was current for the 24 hours up to 6am on Wednesday and that 37 of the aircraft had crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait, which China no longer recognises as an informal divider between the sides.
It said Taiwan has monitored the situation, scrambled fighter jets, dispatched ships and activated land-based missile systems – all standard responses to Chinese military activities, which include crossing into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone but not into its actual airspace.
Such Chinese manoeuvres have become frequent and aggressive since then-US House speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.
China suspended military communication with the US to show its displeasure over her trip to Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary.
China’s military manoeuvres are seen as intended to break down Taiwanese morale, exhausting its pilots and other personnel and wearing down its equipment.
Despite that, the present status of de-facto independence remains widely popular among the island’s voters and the defence budget has been increased to buy new equipment from the US, its chief ally, and produce some items locally, including submarines.
At an international defence forum in Beijing on Monday, China’s second-ranking military official General Zhang Youxia reiterated threats by the Chinese government to retaliate against moves towards establishing Taiwan’s formal independence, saying “no matter who tries to split Taiwan from China in any form, China and the Chinese military will never allow that to happen”.
General Zhang, who is also vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, which oversees the world’s largest standing military, opened the three-day event in the absence of former defence minister General Li Shangfu, who would have normally hosted the event.
General Li was removed from his position last week after a two-month absence from public view.
The government has not given any reason for his removal.