CHINA has surrounded Taiwan with a fleet of over 50 warplanes, including nuclear bombers, in menacing war games.
As Beijing steps up pressure on Taiwan, a senior US Navy admiral has said America needs to confront the Chinese “gorilla in the room”.
China conducted its largest ever military drills around Taiwan – which is regards as its territory – during the visit of senior US politician Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation.
Those exercises included firing multiple ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan – some of the world's busiest shipping routes.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said the latest incursion involved 51 aircraft, including H-6 bombers, which are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Some 25 of those aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait's median line, which in normal times acts as an unofficial barrier between the two sides, or flew into Taiwan's air defence zone.
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In response Taiwanese warplanes were seen taking to the skies, some of them armed with anti-ship missiles.
It comes after Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas said it’s “very important that we contest this type of thing”.
“I know that the gorilla in the room is launching missiles over Taiwan," he said.
"If we just allow that to happen, and we don't contest that, that'll be the next norm.
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"It's irresponsible to launch missiles over Taiwan into international waters, where the shipping lanes, where free shipping operates."
Thomas compared threats against Taiwan to the South China Sea, where Beijing has spent years constructing military bases on a series of contested atolls.
"If you don't challenge it all of a sudden it can become just like the islands in the South China Sea have now become military outposts," he said.
After Pelosi’s visit Xi Jinping's forces effectively blockaded the self-ruled island in a chilling rehearsal for an invasion.
Such a conflict could draw the US and other allies into a catastrophic battle of superpowers, experts warn.
It was reported has deployed its latest stealth submarine around Taiwan.
The Type-039C Yuan is bristling with weapons, including supersonic missiles, aimed at sinking the US Navy’s powerful aircraft carriers.
In response to the wargames, the US military put on a massive show of force over the Pacific.
A warship sailed below as two B-2 Spirit nuclear strike planes fly in formation with four F/A-18 Hornet fighters and a high-tech E-7A Wedgetail "eye-in-the-sky" spy plane from Australia.
The rarely seen B-2 flying wing – designed to be virtually invisible to radar – is the world's most expensive aircraft at an estimated £1.6billion each.
The US has reiterated support for Taiwan after China refused to rule out the use of force to seize the independent island.
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Experts warn China's huge army could crush US-led defences in days, and one simulation reckons the US would lose 900 planes.
Others also say China would need two million soldiers and would face devastating losses like Russia in Ukraine.
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