South China Sea: Chinese Air Force carries out training
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At least 10 H-6J and H-6G bombers were involved in the operation, aimed at demonstrating China’s military might after recent US activities in the disputed waterway. The news, announced by state-run China Central Television (CCTV), said that the bombers belonging to the PLA Southern Theater Command carried out drills after Lunar New Year festivities ended in mid-February.
It included maritime assault and strike exercises, such as long-distance attacks and coordination between pilots who practiced air-to-air combat drills to simulate real-combat capability.
CCTV reported that both new and veteran pilots were involved in the drills.
A destroyer from the US Seventh Fleet – the USS Curtis Wilbur – transited the strait on Wednesday to demonstrate “the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
The US also conducted dual carrier operations earlier in February – one of many military actions during a time of ever-escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Zhang Chunhui, spokesman for the PLA’s Eastern Theatre command, told South China Morning Post: “Troops remain on high alert and are ready to counter all threats and provocations at any time.”
He added that the US destroyer’s transit undermines peace and stability in the area.
Mr Zhang also suggested air and naval forces had been deployed to monitor the destroyer.
The H-6J is capable of carrying up to six anti-ship cruise missiles, two more than previous generation H-6G models.
The US State Department issued a statement last month.
It said US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, “underscored that the United States rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to the extent they exceed the maritime zones that China is permitted to claim under international law.”
China’s interest in the Taiwan Strait revolves around its ownership claim of its island neighbour, a democracy of around 24 million people.
However, Taiwan rejects this and the two nations have been governed separately for over seven decades.
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Beijing asserts its “One China” policy which demands only one sovereign state under the name China.
Britain, France and Germany have all revealed plans to send warships to the South China Sea.
Alessio Patalano, East Asian warfare expert and author of Postwar Japan as a Seapower, has told Express.co.uk President Xi’s threats regarding the region should not be taken lightly, with an emphasis on reunifying nations.
He said: “I do believe President Xi has offered no evidence to suggest he is not serious in his propositions.
“Unless we see a different narrative emerging over this decade in which a different arrangement across the Strait is acceptable to Beijing, one should take seriously the risk of increased action – political as well as military – to ensure that reunification is achieved within a timeframe to allow to celebrate the first 100 years of the PRC in time.”
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