• Kyodo

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A U.S. Air Force aircraft made a brief, unannounced stop at an airport in central Taipei, Taiwan media reported Thursday, swiftly triggering a backlash from Beijing.

China urges the United States “not to play with fire” and “immediately stop its risky and provocative actions,” a Defense Ministry spokesman said in Beijing, adding it will take measures needed to resolutely crush any “Taiwan independence” attempts.

Radio Taiwan International reported Thursday that government officials of Taiwan and the United States have declined to comment on the reason for the U.S. military plane’s landing at Songshan Airport in Taipei earlier in the day.

Communist China and democratic Taiwan have been separately governed since they split in 1949 as a result of a civil war. Their relationship has deteriorated since independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen became Taiwan’s president in 2016.

In recent years, fears have been growing that the leadership of President Xi Jinping, which considers self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province, will try to achieve its cherished goal of reuniting the island with the mainland, by force if necessary.

The Defense Ministry spokesman said any foreign military aircraft landing on China’s territory must obtain the permission of the mainland government.

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