Sábado, 22 Julio, 2017

'No cause for alarm': China downplays military flights over Japanese strait

The Y-20 strategic transport plane of Chinese Army The Y-20 strategic transport plane of Chinese Army
Galena Nuncio | 18 Julio, 2017, 05:46

"China's air force over the past week conducted multiple drills far out at sea, with H-6K bombers and many other types of aircraft flying through the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait, testing actual battle capabilities over the sea", Reuters reported, citing an air force statement.

The Miyako Strait is between Japan's islands of Miyako and Okinawa, to the northeast of self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own. While Taiwan monitored the situation, the Japanese Self-Defense Force scrambled fighters in response. There was no violation of Japanese airspace.

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"The relevant side should not make a fuss about nothing or over-interpret, it will be fine once they get used to it", Chinese defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Friday. "It is legitimate for Chinese military planes to fly through the strait, and more similar training will be conducted on the high seas as needed", Ren said.

Beijing has blasted Tokyo for hyping the exercises, calling them part of "regular" drills, while Japan has said it will keep a steady eye on the "expanding and increasing" actions of the Chinese military in the area. It is concerned that they could be used to restrict free movement and extend China's strategic reach.

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Beijing describes the latest overflight of Chinese warplanes between two Japanese islands in the western Pacific as "routine exercises", and says that Tokyo should "get used to" the practice. Both are defined as global sea areas where ships and aircraft of any countries are entitled to pass freely according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In early March, Japan scrambled fighter jets after 13 Chinese naval aircraft were spotted flying through the strait.

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According to data released by Japan's Defense Ministry on Friday, the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese aircraft 101 times from April to June, down from 199 past year.

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