South China Sea: Chinese Air Force carries out training
US naval ships were passing south of the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands last weekend, when Chinese fighter planes flew into Taiwanese airspace close to the islands. The Chinese squadron included H-6 bombers capable of delivering a nuclear payload. A US official told Reuters that the Chinese aircraft did not come within 250 nautical miles (460 km) of the US Navy vessels.
A statement by the US military’s Pacific Command confirmed that the Chinese air drills had posed no discernible threat to the naval group.
It said: “The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group closely monitored all People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Air Force (PLAAF) activity, and at no time did they pose a threat to U.S. Navy ships, aircraft, or sailors.”
Another source told Reuters that China had carefully planned the manoeuvre to make a point to the US.
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“They purposely conducted the drills when the U.S. carrier was passing through the Bashi Channel”, the source claimed.
“That was not just meant for Taiwan.
“Most importantly, China is trying to tackle the issue of the South China Sea: it wants to stop the U.S. military from entering the South China Sea.
“China wants to diminish the United States’ weight in the western Pacific.”
Meanwhile, Beijing continued to threaten Taiwan over its independence.
In an uncompromising statement on Thursday, China’s Defence Ministry said that “independence means war” and said that its armed forces were acting in response to provocation and foreign interference.
China claims sovereignty over almost all of the resource rich waters of the South China Sea.
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The disputed waters are also one of the most important commercial shipping routes in the world.
An estimated one third of global shipping passes through the South China Sea.
As the second-largest economy in the world with over 60 percent of its trade in value travelling by sea, China’s economic security is closely tied to the South China Sea.
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