BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s air force has again flown bombers and other warplanes through two strategic channels near Taiwan and also over the disputed South China Sea during training drills, state media said on Thursday.
Numerous H-6K bombers and other jets recently flew through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines and the Miyako Strait in Japan’s south, and also over the South China Sea on a “combat patrol”, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke.
Shen did not say when the drills began but said all planes had finished their patrols on Thursday, which were intended to “improve maritime real combat capabilities and forge the forces’ battle methods”.
China has been increasingly asserting itself in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. It is also worried about Taiwan, run by a government China fears is intent on independence.
Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring proudly democratic Taiwan under its control, and has warned that any moves towards formal independence could prompt an armed response.
China is in the midst of an ambitious military modernization program that includes building aircraft carriers and developing stealth fighters to give it the ability to project power far from its shores.
Taiwan is well armed, mostly with U.S. weaponry, but has been pressing Washington to sell it more high-tech equipment to better deter China.