China air force says to continue with flight drills at sea - CCTV

By Reuters/John Ruwitch   July 28, 2017 | 09:01 am GMT+7
China air force says to continue with flight drills at sea - CCTV
A J-31 stealth fighter of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force lands on a runway at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, November 11, 2014. File photo by Reuters/Alex Lee

'No matter who shadows us we will fly often and frequently,' air force spokesman Shen Jinke said.

The Chinese air force will keep conducting drills at sea regardless of whatever interference it may encounter, China's state broadcaster reported, following reports that Chinese warplanes flew near Japan and Taiwan in recent days.

"The air force's distant sea training has become normal, systemic and practical," China Central Television quoted air force spokesman Shen Jinke late on Thursday as saying.

The operations "have faced and dealt with a variety of forms of interference and obstruction, but no matter the obstruction we will carry on just as in the past," Shen said.

"No matter who shadows us we will fly often and frequently," he said, adding that the flights were legal and reasonable.

The air force said on its microblog earlier this month its planes had recently flown through both the Miyako Strait - which lies between two southern Japanese islands - and the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan and the Philippines.

China's long-range flight drills at sea, which started three years ago, were not targeted at any specific country or region, Shen was quoted as saying.

But the flights have raised concern among China's neighbours.

On Tuesday, Taiwan's defense ministry responded to a series of recent flybys by Chinese fighter and reconnaissance aircraft, saying the self-governed island was prepared to defend itself against China.

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A Taiwanese Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) (below) monitors a Chinese Xian H-6 bomber near Taiwan's air defence identification zone July 20, 2017. Picture taken July 20, 2017. Ministry of National Defense/Handout via Reuters

Beijing claims Taiwan as a part of China and has never ruled out the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, warning that any moves towards formal independence could prompt an armed response.

Japan's air force regularly scrambles jets to monitor and chase away nearby Chinese military planes, fearing that China's probing of its air defences is part of a push to extend its military influence in the East China Sea and western Pacific, where Japan controls an island chain stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) south towards Taiwan. 

Tags: China Taiwan