Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Beijing Conducts Air Combat Patrols Over Disputed Islands in the South China Sea

Beijing Conducts Air Combat Patrols Over Disputed Islands in South China Sea

(Photo : Getty Images) China's air force has carried out combat patrol over the disputed Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

China's air force spokesperson said on Saturday that the military had conducted combat air patrols over two disputed islands in the South China Sea to enhance its fighting capability in safeguarding its maritime rights and interests in the disputed sea.

The aerial patrols were carried out after Beijing's rejected the Permanent Court of Arbitration's (PCA) ruling that ruled there is no legal basis for its massive territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea region

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According to Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the Chinese air force, several aircraft such as bombers and Su-30 fighter jets, carried out combat air patrols over the airspace of two disputed islands in the international waterway.

Combat training

Shen refused to give details about exactly when the patrols were conducted except to say that the warplanes and the other aircraft engaged in "actual combat training" to improve the air force's ability to respond to immediate security threats.

In an online statement, Shen said Chinese planes patrolled the airspace over the disputed Spratly group of islands and the Scarborough Shoal as well as other areas.

Several Southeast Asian nations such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have rival claims in the South China Sea.

According to Xinhua, besides actual combat training drills, the air force also conducted "air defense early warning maneuvers and island patrolling military exercise."

Routine military drills

Shen said the latest aerial patrols are part of "routine military drills" which take place regularly.

Last Friday, around 230 Chinese vessels entered Japanese waters in the East China Sea and passed through the Japanese-controlled Sensaku Islands, angering Tokyo.

The Japanese government said China's action further raised tension in the area and demanded that the ships, including the Chinese Coast Guards', leave the waters immediately.

Provocative actions

China has been accused of engaging in provocative actions since the ruling of the PCA last month, which it dismissed as "illegal" and "null and void."

Beijing refused to participate in the proceedings as it said does not recognize the court's jurisdiction.

Last week, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned the US, Japan, and Australia against heightening tensions in the region after the three nations issued a trilateral statement urging Beijing to abide by the court's ruling. 

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