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Iran Press TV

China holds first air force drill in western Pacific Ocean

Iran Press TV

Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:9AM

China says its air force has carried out a military maneuver for the first time over the western Pacific Ocean.

The Chinese military said its aircraft on Monday flew over the ocean through the Bashi Channel – a waterway between the Y'Ami Island of the Philippines and Orchid Island of Taiwan.

"This is the first time that the People's Liberation (PLA ) Army Air Force conducted such drills in an airspace far offshore from Chinese coastlines," Xinhua news agency quoted army spokesman Shen Jinke as saying on Tuesday.

Shen added that the drill was in line with what other "major countries" regularly do.

The report added that the exercise was carried out to "level up the PLA Air Force's mobility and combativeness" over the "high seas."

China's Defense Ministry also published photos of long-range bombers sitting on the tarmac along with their crews after the end of the drill.

The drills came amid Beijing's territorial tensions with its neighbors around the South China Sea, which is speculated to contain huge deposits of oil and gas.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, while other states such as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have competing claims over parts of the sea.

China announced an "Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)" over the East China Sea in 2013. The announcement sparked condemnation from Japan and the United States. Japanese media say that Beijing is considering a similar zone over the South China Sea.


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