Taiwan president praises ‘heroic’ pilots who intercepted Chinese jets

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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen praised on Tuesday the “heroic performance” of air force pilots who have been intercepting Chinese jets that have approached the island, as Beijing steps up military pressure on democratic Taiwan.

Visiting a major air force base on Penghu in the sensitive Taiwan Strait that divides the two sides, Tsai told pilots and engineers she was aware of their “heroic performance” when intercepting and driving away Chinese aircraft.

“I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China, how could we let enemies strut around in our own airspace?” she said, using Taiwan’s formal name.

“I’m aware that facing the provocative behaviour of the communist planes that have encircled the island and damaged regional peace in recent days, your duty at the front line of the airspace in Penghu must be even heavier.”

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