Four Chinese Xian H-6 strategic bombers were spotted yesterday in two formations flying close to Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, passing through the Bashi Channel (巴士海峽) and the Miyako Strait south of Okinawa before returning to Chinese airspace, the Ministry of National Defense said.
The bombers, part of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command, were taking part in a long-range drill in the Western Pacific, the ministry said.
The Miyako Strait, a strategic entryway into the Western Pacific between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa, offers a small strip of international waters and airspace through Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the ministry said, adding that all Chinese military movements are closely monitored by the ministry.
It was the third such fly-by in the past two weeks.
The drill came after the ministry detected Chinese military aircraft, including the H-6 bombers, flying near Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and the Miyako Strait on July 13 and again on Thursday.
The Chinese air force confirmed to the media that its warplanes had conducted long-range drills over the Bashi Channel and the Miyako Strait “several times” over the past few weeks, testing actual combat abilities over the sea.
The ministry said it has closely monitored all Chinese military activity.
In response to media queries, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) yesterday said the ministry methodically monitors Chinese military movements and the national security establishment is in control of the situation at every step.
All measures necessary for the nation’s defense, from advanced warning to deployment and preparation, have been made and the nation is safe, Huang said, urging the pubic to remain calm.
When asked what would be the government’s response if China regularly flies bombers near the nation’s air space, Huang said that the latest Chinese military exercise is watched closely by its neighbors, including Taiwan.
The ministry made the records of the incidents public, including the interception of the bombers by Taiwanese jets last week, he said.
In other developments, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense yesterday warned India not to harbor any illusions about China’s ability to defend its territory, as tensions grow over a stand-off on a plateau next to the Indian state of Sikkim.
“Shaking a mountain is easy, but shaking the PLA is hard,” ministry spokesman Colonel Wu Qian (吳謙) told a briefing in Beijing.
According to China, Indian guards crossed into China’s Donglang region early last month and obstructed work on a road on the plateau.
The two sides’ troops then confronted each other close to a valley controlled by China that separates India from Bhutan and gives China access to the so-called “Chicken’s Neck,” a thin strip of land connecting India and its remote northeastern regions.
India has said it warned China that construction of the road near their common border would have serious security implications.
“India should not leave things to luck and not harbor any unrealistic illusions,” Wu said, adding that the military had taken emergency measures in the region and would continue to increase focused deployments and drills.
Indian officials say that about 300 soldiers from either side are facing each other about 150m apart on the plateau.
They told reporters that both sides’ diplomats have quietly engaged to try to keep the stand-off from escalating and that India’s ambassador to Beijing is leading the effort to find a way for both sides to back down without loss of face.
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