Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Friday's mission involved Chinese J-16 fighter jets (as seen in this archive photo), Taiwan said

Taiwan has reported 38 Chinese military jets flying into its air defence zone on Friday – the largest incursion by Beijing to date.

The defence ministry said the aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers, entered its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in two waves.

Taiwan responded by scrambling its jets and deploying missile systems.

China sees democratic Taiwan as a breakaway province, but Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign state.

Taiwan has been complaining for more than a year about repeated missions by China's air force near the island.

"China has been wantonly engaged in military aggression, damaging regional peace," Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters on Saturday.

The government in Beijing – which is marking 72 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China – has so far made no public comment.

But it has previously said such flights were to protect its sovereignty and also targeted "collusion" between Taiwan and the US.

  • What's behind the China-Taiwan divide?

In a statement, Taiwan's defence ministry said 25 People's Liberation Army (PLA) planes entered south-western part of the ADIZ during daylight hours, flying near the Pratas Islands atoll.

This was followed by a second wave of 13 PLA aircraft in the same area on Friday evening. They flew over waters between Taiwan and the Philippines.

25 PLA aircraft (J-16*18, SU-30*4, H-6*2 and Y-8 ASW) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on October 1, 2021. Please check our official website for more information: https://t.co/C7012S8hSo pic.twitter.com/HoalLl3Ewx

— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) October 1, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The ministry said the Chinese aircraft included four H-6 bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons, as well as an anti-submarine aircraft.

An air defence identification zone is an area outside of a country's territory and national airspace – but where foreign aircraft are still identified, monitored, and controlled in the interest of national security.

It is self-declared and technically remains international airspace.

Beijing often launches such missions to express displeasure at comments made by Taiwan.

It is not clear what prompted the latest mission.

China and Taiwan: The basics

  • Why do China and Taiwan have poor relations? China and Taiwan were divided during a civil war in the 1940s, but Beijing insists the island will be reclaimed at some point, by force if necessary
  • How is Taiwan governed? The island has its own constitution, democratically elected leaders, and about 300,000 active troops in its armed forces
  • Who recognises Taiwan? Only a few countries recognise Taiwan. Most recognise the Chinese government in Beijing instead. The US has no official ties with Taiwan but does have a law which requires it to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

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