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U.S. accuses China of 'provocative' activity after warplanes enter Taiwan's defense zone

China's activity was "destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

The U.S. accused China of "provocative military activity" Sunday after it flew dozens of military planes near Taiwan's airspace.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry tweeted that 16 fighter jets entered its air defense identification zone Sunday, after, it said, 39 military aircraft — 20 during the day and 19 more at night — had encroached on its airspace Saturday.

Thirty-eight Chinese planes made incursions Friday, which Taiwan said was the largest operation by Chinese military aircraft to date. Friday was the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Sunday that the U.S. was "very concerned" by what he said was China's "provocative military activity near Taiwan." It is "destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability," he said.

"We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan," he said.

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China has been sending military planes into the area south of Taiwan frequently for more than a year in what appears to be an effort to step up military and political pressure.

The air defense identification zone is the type of airspace that many countries define around their territories to monitor air traffic. It is not recognized by international law.

Beijing views Taiwan as an illegitimate breakaway province that is part of its territory. When the communists won their civil war against the nationalists in 1949, the nationalists set up a rival government in Taipei.

The air activity has been increasing as Washington and Beijing have been sharply at odds over a raft of issues, including cybersecurity, human rights and trade.

Price said that the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is "rock solid" and that Washington will continue to assist Taipei in "maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability."

Beijing has not commented about sending the jets toward Taiwan. The Global Times, a state-run newspaper and website, reported on the incursions Sunday.

"This has consecutively broken the previous record of the scale of exercises in this area," it said in an editorial, adding that Taiwanese authorities "were shocked once again."

Beijing has previously said such flights protect the country's sovereignty and that they are aimed against "collusion" between Taipei and foreign forces.

Reuters contributed.