China has sent 71 warplanes and seven ships near Taiwan over a 24-hour period this weekend, which was intended as a clear warning signal in response to President Biden signing the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, given it includes $10 billion in military grant assistance to Taiwan. 

The majority of those warplanes are said to have crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, with the Taiwanese military counting 47 jets breaching the de facto boundary line. The threatening flights occurred between 6 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday.

A statement from the People’s Liberation Army’s  Eastern Theater Command included a rare direct reference to the United States and its deepening ties to Taipei. “This is a firm response to the current US-Taiwan escalation and provocation,” the Eastern Command statement said.

Over the weekend, and while much of the West was celebrating the Christmas holiday, China’s Foreign Ministry elaborated its response to the NDAA passage, signed into law by President Biden Friday, just before the bulk of PLA aircraft buzzed the island, saying the new funding for more weapons for Taiwan “blatantly interferes in China’s internal affairs.”

“This sends a gravely wrong signal to ​’​Taiwan independence​’​ separatist forces and severely affects peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan is China’s Taiwan. No external interference in China’s internal affairs will be tolerated​,” it said further.

“The US needs to stop seeking to use Taiwan to contain China, stop fudging, distorting and hollowing out the one-China principle, and stop moving even further down the wrong and dangerous path​,” the foreign ministry continued.

The latest sortie from the PLA included 18 J-16 fighter jets, 11 J-1 fighters, 6 Su-30 fighters and drones, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry, which typically scrambles its own fighters in response and uses coastal anti-air defense systems to monitor inbound activity.

President Tsai Ing-wen in response vowed to bolster the island’s civil defense systems. “The more preparations we make, the less likely there will be rash attempts of aggression. The more united we are, the stronger and safer Taiwan would become,” Tsai ​said.​​

On Friday the PLA military had sent 39 aircraft and three warships toward Taiwan. But Sunday into overnight Monday’s flights marked a record number of Chinese aircraft breaching Taiwan’s air defense identification zone over a single day period.

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