Up to 20 aircraft either crossed the median line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait or breached Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in a major escalation.

China sent dozens of military aircraft and vessels toward Taiwan on Saturday in a significant warning as fears of conflict erupt.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement that 32 aircraft from China’s People’s Liberation Army and nine vessels from the navy were detected in the 24 hours between 6am Friday and 6am Saturday.

Of these, 20 aircraft either crossed the median line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait or breached Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.

Taiwan urgently responded by sending its own aircraft, vessels and missile systems to react to the activities, the defence military said.

It comes just days after the US approved a £397million arms sale to Taipei as invasion fears surge.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Zhang Xiaogang said on Friday that China opposed the arms sale, branding it a “gross interference” in China’s internal affairs.

He labelled it a “heinous act” that violates its “One China” principle.

It comes after the US announced a package of military aid worth an estimated £275million for Taiwan earlier this month.

The package was in addition to nearly £15 billion in military sales of F-16s and other major weapons systems that the US has approved for Taiwan.

The White House has been bolstering its level of assistance for Taiwan amid China’s repeated threats.

It has come under intense pressure from Congress members to support the self-governed island nation with additional weapons in the hope that Beijing would consider the price of invading the territory across the Taiwan Strait too high.

Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Matt Shoemaker told Daily Express US the chances new military packages will repel an invasion are low.

Instead, he said they indicate that “what this means regarding the fears of American and Chinese conflict over Taiwan is that the threat for conflict is still there.”

China has repeatedly warned it is willing to invade Taiwan, the self-governed island nation Beijing claims sovereignty over.

In recent years, it has stepped up the number of military planes sent toward the island in symbolic warnings.

The island split from Beijing in 1949 following a bloody civil war, but President Xi Jinping says his country is still the rightful owner according to the “One China” principle.

The US has warned that it will step in to defend the island if China does make an attempt to take the territory by force.

Beijing has also ramped up military drills around the island in furious reaction to Taiwan’s political activities.