Sunday, July 16, 2017

China says ‘get used to it’ as military flies long-range bombers near Japan

China’s Defense Ministry has dismissed concerns broached by Japan over a recent flight by long-range bombers through the Miyako Strait, telling Tokyo it should “get used to” the military exercises.

Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang made the remarks Friday in defense of what he called “routine exercises” a day earlier that saw six Chinese H-6 bombers fly through the strategic entryway into the Western Pacific between the islands of Miyako and Okinawa.

Japan scrambled fighters in response. There was no violation of Japanese airspace.

“It is legitimate for Chinese military planes to fly through the strait, and more similar training will be conducted on the high seas as needed,” said Guoqiang.

“The parties concerned don’t need to overact and make a great fuss about it,” he added. “They will feel better after getting used to such drills.”

The Chinese military last sent ships and planes through the international but politically sensitive waters and airspace in April as part of its continuing push to hone its ability to operate further from its shores.

Exercises through the Miyako Strait have become more and more commonplace as China seeks to project its military clout farther into the Pacific.

In early March, Japan scrambled fighter jets after a total of 13 Chinese naval aircraft were spotted flying through the strait. That large-scale drill featured fighters, bombers and early warning aircraft.

Beijing has blasted Tokyo for hyping the exercises, calling them part of “regular” drills, while Japan has said it will keep a steady eye on the “expanding and increasing” actions of the Chinese military in the area.

According to data released by Japan’s Defense Ministry on Friday, the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese aircraft 101 times from April to June, down from 199 last year.

The plunge came after the ASDF scrambled fighters against Chinese planes a record-high 1,168 times in fiscal 2016, which ended in March.

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