Taiwan says Chinese aircraft fly around island in weekend of drills

© Reuters.  Taiwan says Chinese aircraft fly around island in weekend of drills© Reuters. Taiwan says Chinese aircraft fly around island in weekend of drills

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Chinese military aircraft carried out two rounds of drills around Taiwan at the weekend, flying past its southern tip and then around its north near Japan, the self-ruled island’s defense ministry said.

China has been increasingly asserting itself in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. It is also worried about Taiwan, which it claims as its own, but which is run by a government China fears is intent on independence.

On Sunday, two Chinese military transport aircraft flew through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines before going up near the Japanese island of Miyako, to Taiwan’s north, where they were joined by two Chinese fighter jets, and then returned home, the ministry said.

The day before, Chinese bombers and transport aircraft flew the same route, while Chinese fighters and airborne early warning aircraft flew only through the Bashi Channel, the ministry added.

Taiwan’s forces monitored the drills and responded appropriately, the ministry said, adding there was no cause for alarm.

China has yet to comment on the drills, but its air force has carried out several rounds of long-distance training exercises around Taiwan and the southern Japanese islands in recent months.

Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring 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.

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