Conflict & Justice

China flexes Air Force muscle amid territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam


Air Force pilots take off in Chinese J-10 fighter jets at the People's Liberation Army Air Force in Tianjin, home of the 24th Fighter Division, southeast of Beijing on April 13, 2010.



As China argues over territorial rights with its Asian neighbors, its Air Force held large-scale exercises last month showing off the country’s growing military capabilities, state media reported today.

The drills involved 100 pilots flying 10 different aircraft, 200 support vehicles and hundreds of soldiers, China Military Online said.

Air Force officers said they were testing takeoffs and landings at airports with double runways.

“The aircraft throughput per hour for the first drill was one-third more than that at the airport in the past,” Zhang Jian said on the website.

He said aircraft movements during the drill exceeded those of a civilian airport of the same size, “which was beyond the imagination of an old pilot with more than 20 years of flying experience like me.”

China held the exercises over 11 days in the northwestern region of Xinjiang between Mongolia and Kazakhstan, The Associated Press reported.

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Pilots flew in war games and trained to counter electro-magnetic interference, the AP said.

The People’s Daily displayed photos of the event, held in the southwest.

China is embroiled in disputes with Japan, Vietnam, India and the Philippines over claims to fishing and oil rights.

On Thursday, it warned Vietnam and India about their oil exploration in the South China Sea.

“The Vietnamese side should stop the unilateral development of oil and gas in the previously mentioned areas and stop disturbing Chinese fishing ships so as to create a favorable atmosphere for negotiation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told the Xinhua news agency.

China has also long debated Japan over rights to islands in the area.

The Indian government said it’s willing to dispatch navy vessels into the disputed areas.

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