The Chinese air force is today to send fighter jets and bombers to Thailand for a joint exercise with the Thai military.
The training is to include air support, strikes on ground targets and small and large-scale troop deployment, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on its Web site.
Beijing’s expanding military activities in the Asia-Pacific region have alarmed the US and its allies and form part of a growing strategic and economic competition that has inflamed tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in June visited Thailand as part of an effort to enhance what he called the US’ “unparalleled network of alliances and partnerships” in the region.
The Falcon Strike exercise is to be held at the Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in northern Thailand near the border with Laos. Thai fighter jets and airborne early warning aircraft from both countries would participate.
The training comes as the US holds combat drills in Indonesia with Indonesia, Australia, Japan and Singapore in the largest iteration of the Super Garuda Shield exercises since they were first held in 2009.
It also follows China’s sending warships, missiles and aircraft into the waters and air around Taiwan in a threatening response to a visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
US National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell on Friday said that the US would take resolute steps to support Taiwan, including sending warships and aircraft through the Taiwan Strait.
“We’ll continue to fly, sail and operate where international law allows, consistent with our longstanding commitment to freedom of navigation,” he said in a call with reporters. “And that includes conducting standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks.”
Taipei on Friday rejected Hanoi’s characterization of its recent live-fire drill near Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) as “illegal,” saying that Taiwan’s claim to the small island in the South China Sea was “unquestionable.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement that the comments made by its Vietnamese counterpart about the military’s routine live-fire drills near Itu Aba on Tuesday were “unacceptable.” Earlier on Friday, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang called Taiwan’s military activity “a serious violation of Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty,” saying it had caused tensions and complicated the situation in the region. Hang
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