China has released photos of armed jets flying over disputed waters of the South China Sea, in response to the U.S. naval presence near the disputed Spratly Islands a few days ago.
Chinese military photos show navy planes training with missiles, flying over the disputed South China Sea waters near Vietnam.
Photos of Fighter Jets belonging to China’s South Sea Fleet could be seen on the navy’s official website on Saturday. The move by Beijing is seen by experts to be a protestation against U.S. warships patrolling near sovereign Chinese waters. The training exercise was carried out from an airstrip in the South China Sea.
South China Morning Post reports:
The navy did not name the airstrip, but military experts said it was on Woody Island in the Paracels. They also said the exercise was Beijing’s latest response to the US guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen sailing within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef last Tuesday. Subi Reef – located 600km from Woody Island – is one of seven reefs and rocks in the Spratlys chain on which China has built artificial islands.
“Both the defence ministry and foreign ministry have said China would have answers when its sea rights were breached. Such statements need to be followed by real actions,” retired Chinese general Xu Guangyu said.
“It’s a signal China sent to the US that it is serious about its claims. This is the minimum level of response China should have, or it will fail the expectation of its people.”
Xu believed the training was done on Woody Island, since it was the only airstrip ready for use in the South China Sea, despite a handful of runways under construction.
In 2012, China set up the Sansha municipal government on Woody Island, nearly 300km off the coast of Hainan , in a move to further assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The municipal government oversees all islands China claims sovereignty over in the region.
“China will spare no effort to make assertive gestures, as long as they don’t touch the bottom line of military conflicts,” military expert Ni Lexiong said.
“It’s also a warning for US allies in the region, including Australia and Japan. They might follow the example set by the US.”
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter yesterday said disputes over territory in the South China Sea were causing countries in the region to increase their demand for an American security presence.
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