Taiwan brands China a ‘bully’ after 24 fighter jets enter its airspace

Taiwan branded neighbour China a "bully" after the Asian superpower sent two fleets of fighter planes into its airspace in a thinly-veiled trade threat.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) jets launched Thursday, September 23, included bombers, fighter planes, anti-submarine planes and airborne early warning and control planes.

Taiwan said radio warnings were issued and air defense missile systems were activated to keep an eye on the Chinese expedition, CNN reports.

It represents the third biggest Chinese invasion of Taiwanese airspace in the past two years.

The threat followed Taiwan's announced plans to join free trade agreement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke out against its neighbour's application.

Spokesman Zhao Lijian said: "We firmly oppose official exchanges between any country and the Taiwan region, and firmly oppose Taiwan's accession to any agreement or organization of an official nature."

China does not recognise Taiwan's existence as an independent country, instead claiming it is a treacherous outpost of the Chinese republic.

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But the Middle Kingdom has never ruled the island on which millions of Chinese fled after the country's civil war 70 years ago, Taiwan's foreign ministry replied.

A spokesperson for the ministry said: "Taiwan is Taiwan, and it is not part of the People's Republic of China.

"The People's Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan for a single day.

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"The Chinese government only wants to bully Taiwan in the international community and is the culprit for heightened tensions in cross-strait relations."

Tensions between China and its neighbours have heightened as a geopolitical battle to control the South China Sea rages on.

The strategically valuable stretch of water is a passageway for trillions of pounds in global trade each year, including 6% of the United States' total trade value.

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Taiwan is a large island at the north-east edge of the South China Sea.

Earlier this year China threatened "counter-measures" after the UK sent a vessel to patrol the waters in an effort to protect free global trade.

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