Sunday, July 16, 2017
China's Military Enters Japan and Taiwan Air Zones, Says 'Get Used to It'
Beijing fired back Friday against Japanese complaints regarding Chinese warplanes flying between two of its islands in the Asia Pacific, telling Tokyo that such aircraft may become a common sight.
A fleet of six Chinese Xian-H6 twin-engine bombers flew Thursday between Japan's Miyako Island and Okinawa Island in the Miyako Strait, sparking a response from the Japanese Defense Ministry, which called the incident "unusual." While the ministry noted there was no breach of Japan's sovereign air space, the proximity of the bombers prompted Japan to scramble its own fighters. The Chinese Defense Ministry dismissed the concerns of its Japanese counterpart, calling the actions of its aircraft "legal and legitimate," and suggested that further maneuvers were in store, according to Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun,
"The relevant side should not make a fuss about nothing or over-interpret, it will be fine once they get used to it," China's defense ministry said in a statement translated byReuters.
Fellow countries in the Western Pacific are often frustrated by China's vast territorial claims and its willingness to project its military superiority throughout the region. The Miyako Strait, where Thursday's incident took place, is the largest strait among Japan's Ryukyu Islands and allows China strategic access to the Pacific Ocean from the East China Sea. The waterway is located just northeast of Beijing's nationalist rival government in Taiwan, which continues to consider itself the sole successor of imperial China after being exiled from the mainland by partisans of the ruling Communist Party in 1949.
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Taiwan also reported China's air activity Thursday. The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said that the bombers flew just outside its air defense identification zone, but emphasized that it had "closely followed" them as they passed. Only a day prior, Taiwan said that China's aircraft carrier Liaoning had entered its air identification zone along with several other vessels, according to the Financial Times, which cited Taiwan's official Military News Agency as saying there were "no unusual developments." The state-run outlet also told citizens to feel "at ease."