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China military aircraft fly over Sea of Japan, around Taiwan as part of drills

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Chinese J-15 fighter jet preparing to take off from the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military drills in the Bohai Sea, off China, on December 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

China’s air force has conducted another round of long-range drills, sending its fighter jets and bombers into international waters in the Sea of Japan and around self-ruled Taiwan.

The air force said in a statement on Monday that the fighter and bomber aircraft flew through the Tsushima Strait that separates South Korea from Japan as part of routine and pre-planned exercises.

Air force spokesman Shen Jinke said the Sea of Japan is not Japan’s, and the drills were lawful and reasonable.

The maneuvers prompted South Korea’s fighter jets to scramble. The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that five Chinese military planes were spotted entering the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone.

The Chinese aircraft also flew through Japan’s air defense identification zone, it claimed.

The statement said that South Korea’s “fighter planes took normal tactical measures, identifying the models of the Chinese planes and flying aerial surveillance until they left.”

Chinese J-15 fighter jets waiting on the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military drills in the Bohai Sea, off China, on December 10, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Without any mention of the South Korea’s aircraft, the Chinese air force said it “responded to interference from foreign military aircraft,” but was able to achieve the aim of their drill.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s military said that China had carried out a separate drill at the same time around the island. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Japan sent F-15 fighters to intercept Chinese aircraft.

There was no immediate reaction from Tokyo.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory, and expects other countries to adhere to the policy of “One China,” which recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the territory.

The US, however, has briefly angered Beijing after Congress passed in September the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which authorizes mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States.

The move prompted a senior Chinese diplomat to warn this month China would invade Taiwan if any US warships made port visits to the island.

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