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45 Chinese aircraft detected around Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Forty-five Chinese aircraft were detected around Taiwan, Taipei's defense ministry said Wednesday, less than a week before the self-ruled island holds a May 20 inauguration for its new president.

This is the highest number of Chinese aircraft detected around Taiwan -- which Beijing claims as part of China -- in a single 24-hour period this year.

Beijing regards incoming president Lai Ching-te as a "dangerous separatist", and tensions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been high since he won the January poll.

On Wednesday, Taipei's defense ministry said it had detected 45 Chinese aircraft and six naval vessels operating around Taiwan during the 24 hour period leading up to 6:00 am (2200 GMT).

"26 of the aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait," the ministry said in a statement, referring to a line bisecting the 180-kilometre (110-mile) waterway that separates Taiwan from China.

The ministry added that it had "monitored the situation and responded accordingly".

On Tuesday evening, the ministry had said 23 Chinese aircraft -- including fighter jets and drones -- were detected around Taiwan during a two-hour period.

China has said it would never renounce the use of force to bring Taiwan under Beijing's control.

It has upped military pressure on the island in recent years, sending in warplanes and naval vessels near-daily which experts says are "grey zone tactics" that stop short of an outright act of war.

Lai, like outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, rejects Beijing's claim over Taiwan.