When China sent military aircraft across the so-called median line of the Taiwan Strait more than 300 times last month, the move set the stage for a "new normal" in the waterway. But it also spotlighted a more alarming situation in the skies near Taiwan — one that threatens to spiral out of control if not managed.

According to publicly released data, China flew 302 sorties last month over the informal boundary with Taiwan, with all coming after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island on Aug. 3.

The flights over the line — which China had rarely crossed in the past — have signaled a dramatic shift by Beijing. Prior to that, the Chinese military had ventured across the median line, which is also known as the center line or Davis Line, just four times between 1954 and August 2020 and only 23 times since September that year until Pelosi's trip.