China Again Conducts Aerial Drill in Western Pacific, Japan Responds Back
China's air force said that it conducted a drill at the Western Pacific region on Friday. This air force drill is the third exercise conducted in less than three months in the region, after China carried out two successive aerial drills in September.
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The exercises on Friday "are not aimed at any specific country, region or target, are legal, reasonable and fair," China's air force said in a statement on its official Weibo account.
"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."
China did not rule out more drills in future as it said it "will continue to organise routine drills far out at sea to further forge and develop the air force's systematic abilities far at sea."
The exercise covered the "first island chain" region, which is inclusive of Japan's Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan.
China's air force, however, did not elaborate on what types of aircrafts participated in the exercise but uploaded photos of H-6 bomber on its official microblogging account.
Japan Responds to China's Air Force Drill
As per reports in Japanese media, Japan's air force immediately responded to the Chinese drill by carrying out similar aerial exercise near Miyako Strait.
Japanese media did not shed much light on the exercise but claimed that the exercise was conducted within its own territory. It also said that the Chinese aircrafts did not breach into the Japanese airspace.
Some reports in Japan's local media quoted Japan's defence ministry's press release claming that China had used two H-6 bombers and two Su-30 fighters in its aerial operation on Friday.
It must be noted that China had also used H-6 bombers and Su-30 fighters during September's aerial operation in Western Pacific region.
South China Sea and East China Sea
The latest air force drill in Western Pacific region comes at a time when tension in South China Sea has more or less subsided. The tension in the region had heightened following international arbitration court's historic ruling in July, which dismissed China's historical claim over the maritime territory.
The tension subsided after Philippines, which dragged China to the arbitration court, extended olive branch to Beijing, in a definite sign that it is seeking to overhaul its foreign policy that was traditionally hostile towards China and friendlier towards the United States.