Vastavam web: Chinese bombers and spy planes have flown around Taiwan, the air force said today as Taipei accused Beijing of trying to stoke regional tensions with its military drills.China sees the democratically-governed island as a renegade part of its territory to be brought back into the fold and has not ruled out reunification by force.
In a statement on its microblog, the Chinese air force said it had “recently” flown a patrol, which included H-6K bombers, around Taiwan.Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said it served as a warning against those pushing for Taiwanese independence.Taiwan’s defence ministry said today multiple Chinese aircraft including bombers and reconnaissance planes were spotted on yesterday afternoon flying over Miyako Strait — near Japan’s southern Okinawa island — into the western Pacific before returning to their base via Bashi Channel off southern Taiwan.Chinese combat helicopters also conducted live-fire drills with missiles off southeast China, state media said, without confirming whether the exercises took place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercise took place yesterday and involved various types of helicopters that tested “all-weather operational capability of the air force at sea,” the official Xinhua news agency said.State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of helicopters firing missiles at distant objects in the water.Beijing had announced the Taiwan Strait drills last week, further ramping up tensions following stark warnings against any independence moves by the self-ruled island.
Vessels had been ordered to avoid a certain area off the Chinese mainland, triggering speculation that a flotilla spearheaded by China’s sole aircraft carrier would take part in the exercise.But Taiwan’s defence ministry said yesterday that the drills only involved land-based artillery conducting “routine” shooting practice, accusing Beijing of exaggerating its plans as a form of “verbal intimidation and sabre-rattling”.Beijing has stepped up military patrols around Taiwan and used diplomatic pressure to isolate it internationally since Tsai took office.
Beijing has also been angered by Washington’s arms sales to Taipei, and China protested last month after President Donald Trump signed a bill allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan.