(CNN)China dispatched two large formations of warplanes close to the self-governing island of Taiwan over the weekend, presenting a significant foreign policy challenge to new United States President Joe Biden just days into his administration.Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 13 Chinese planes entered the southwestern portion of the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday followed by 15 on Sunday, prompting Taipei to take defensive measures, including scrambling fighter jets to monitor the Chinese flights.According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, Chinese military planes made more than 380 flights into the island’s air defense identification zone last year. The US Federal Aviation Administration defines an ADIZ as “a designated area of airspace over land or water within which a country requires the immediate and positive identification, location, and air traffic control of aircraft in the interest of the country’s national security.”While the frequency of such drills has increased in recent years, the timing and the composition of the latest formations — mostly fighter jets and bombers — appeared intended to send a message to the new administration in Washington.Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed that Beijing will never allow the island to become independent and has refused to rule out the use of force if necessary.
Decoding the China-Taiwan relationship 02:24In a statement Saturday, the Biden administration urged Beijing to stop trying to intimidate Taiwan and promised support for the democratic government in Taipei.”We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, adding that US-Taiwan ties are deepening and Washington remains committed to the island’s self-rule.The US showed a strong commitment to Taiwan’s defense during the Trump administration, approving the sale of advanced military hardware to Taipei, including F-16 fighter jets, while sending high-level envoys to the island, both moves that angered Beijing.In an early show of support from the Biden administration toward the island, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, attended Biden’s inauguration last week. It was the first such official invitation to a representative of the Taipei government since 1979, when Washington established formal diplomatic ties with Beijing. On the same day, Beijing announced sanctions against outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other high-ranking officials under Trump, accusing them of “prejudice and hatred against China.”