On Sunday, Chinese fighters and bombers flew through a sensitive international entryway. This is a new development in the South China Sea war.
The Chinese fighters and bombers were scrambled by the Air Self-Defense Force as they passed through the critical area and into the Western Pacific.
South China Sea War: The Passage
Although China used legal passage, the way through Okinawa is still politically sensitive. It has been noted that China only wanted to send a message to Tokyo, as reported by Japan Times.
These movements were made by Beijing for the first time days after Japan’s minister of defense declared it was taking preparations to step up engagement in the disputed sea.
Refueling tankers were among the Chinese aircraft that passed through. The Chinese bunch flew over the Miyako Strait in Okinawa Prefecture; however, they did not violate Japanese airspace, the Defense Ministry stated in Tokyo.
South China Sea War: The Chinese Drill
Xinhuanet reported that a Su-30 fighter and an H-6K bomber of the Chinese Air Force were participating in a drill on September 25, 2016. On Sunday, the Chinese Air Force ordered more than 40 aircraft of multiple types to the West Pacific via the Miyako Strait. It was done to perform a routine drill on the high seas, according to a spokesperson.
The publication also reported that PLA Air Force’s bombers and fighters administered routine patrol in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
South China Sea War: The Chinese Government’s Version
According to the Ministry of National Defense, spokesperson of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, Shen Jinke said that the fleet, which included H-6K bombers and Su-30 fighters, performed reconnaissance.
The spokesperson also said that aircraft were conducting in-flight refueling, early warning, and attacks on sea surface targets to evaluate the Air Force’s capacity to fight on high seas.
“Regular long-range drills in the Western Pacific and patrols over the East China Sea ADIZ were for the air force to safeguard China’s sovereignty, national security and peaceful development,” Jinke said, as reported by South China Morning Post.