China sends 71 warplanes toward Taiwan after the U.S. signs defense bill offering protection

China's army sent fleets of jet fighters and other military aircraft into Taiwan's air defense zone on Sunday as part of a military drill Beijing says was a response to "provocation" from the U.S. and Taiwan, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense reported that a total of 71 Chinese airplanes were detected flying in the airspace surrounding Taiwan, with 47 of them crossing the maritime border of the Taiwan Strait at about 6 a.m., per CNN. The ministry also revealed that it detected seven Chinese naval vessels near Taiwan on Sunday.

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On Monday, China's army released footage of numerous jet fighters taking off and naval officers carrying out their duties on the Chinese social-media platform Weibo. The army said the drills were a "resolute response to the current US-Taiwan escalation and provocation," without elaborating on said provocation, ABC News reports.

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Officials from Washington and Taipei have criticized China's recent aggressive military maneuvers. The White House's National Security Council called the drills provocative and said the action was "destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability," per the Journal.

President Biden previously stated the U.S. would protect Taiwan if China moved forward with invading the democratically governed island. China's Communist Party has long expressed plans to reunify the island with the Chinese mainland since it views Taiwan as part of its territory. On Dec. 23, Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023, which included authorization of up to $10 billion over five years to finance weaponry and military equipment sales to Taiwan. The bill also featured provisions to provide training and other assistance to help the island defend itself in the event of an invasion by China.

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