(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.)

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) – As NATO and G7 leaders met to discuss a tougher line on China this week, Taiwan – swiftly emerging as the most serious likely flashpoint – was entering a new phase of its perfect storm with the mainland.

Taiwan’s defence minister said on Tuesday that 26 Chinese warplanes entered the Air Defence Identification Zone claimed by Taiwan, one more than the previous largest incursion in April. The aircraft – including jet interceptors, maritime patrol aircraft and nuclear-capable bombers – flew around the south of Taiwan and near a much smaller disputed island.

Beijing’s military rhetoric and actions towards Taiwan – which China argues is a rogue province that must be reintegrated with the mainland – have ramped up sharply this year, particularly air and maritime incursions. This has prompted a similar uptick in…

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