Chinese bomber flies in the skies southwest of Taiwan

A handout photo released on Feb 10, 2020 by Taiwan's Defence Ministry shows a Taiwanese F-16 fighter jet flying next to a Chinese H-6 bomber (top) in Taiwan's airspace. (CNA)
A handout photo released on Feb 10, 2020 by Taiwan's Defence Ministry shows a Taiwanese F-16 fighter jet flying next to a Chinese H-6 bomber (top) in Taiwan's airspace. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Chinese warplanes flew in the skies southwest of Taiwan Friday afternoon and the move has been monitored closely by the country’s military, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

In a statement, the MND said an unspecified number of China’s H-6 bombers flew over the sea southwest of Taiwan proper at around 4 p.m. Friday and then entered the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Soon after entering the skies over the Channel, the Chinese H-6 bombers returned to their station through the same route, the MND said, but it did not disclose where the planes were based.

The MND said the action taken by the Chinese warplanes was watched closely by the military. No irregularity caused by the Chinese warplanes was reported, according to the MND.

It added that the military took advantage of its advanced joint surveillance system to get well aware of the situation in the skies and the seas around Taiwan, so it was unnecessary for the public to worry about this particular move made by the Chinese warplanes.

China has carried out an increasing number of drills around Taiwan since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) first took office in 2016.

According to the MND’s records, the last time China dispatched warplanes to carry out a flight mission was from Feb. 9-10.

On those two days, Chinese J-11 jet fighters, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and H-6 bombers flew over the Bashi Channel and into the Western Pacific Ocean, before returning to their bases via the Miyako Strait to the northeast of Taiwan.

On Feb. 10, a number of Chinese planes briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line and entered Taiwan’s airspace, but retreated to the western side of the line after the Taiwanese military scrambled F-16 fighters and other military aircraft and issued radio warnings to the Chinese squadron.

After the Chinese warplane action, the United States on Feb. 12 dispatched two B-52 Stratofortress bombers on southward flights off Taiwan’s east coast, while a MJ-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport plane flew over the Taiwan Strait, also heading south.

On Feb. 16, the U.S. sent the USS Chancellorsville to sail through the Taiwan Strait in a southerly direction after the B-52 bomber action.

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