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China dispatches air force jets to carry out more drills in the Pacific

Chinese air force jets again carried out drills in the western Pacific, flying through the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan and the Philippines and the Miyako Strait near Japan’s Okinawa island, the nation’s air force said.

The air force described the exercises on Friday as part of normal annual planned drills that accorded with international law and practice.

They come as China has been increasingly asserting itself in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas.

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The drills “are not aimed at any specific country, region or target, are legal, reasonable and fair”, the air force said in a statement on its official social media account.

China carried out similar exercises in the western Pacific at least twice in September, also flying close to either Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, or Japan.

China has rapidly been ramping up research into advanced new military equipment, including stealth jets, submarines, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles, which has rattled nerves regionally and in the United States.

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“Organising the air corps to carry out exercises far at sea is a normal thing to do for the air forces of countries which border the ocean,” the air force said. “The air force will continue to organise routine drills far out at sea to further forge and develop the air force’s systematic abilities far at sea, maintain national ­sovereignty, protect national security and guarantee peaceful ­development.”

The statement did not say what types of aircraft took part, but showed a picture of an H-6 bomber. It did not say when or where the picture was taken.

The air force, along with its navy, has been honing its abilities to conduct operations far from its shores.