A large fleet composed of more than 40 H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters, and air tankers “systematically” flew on Sunday through the Miyako Strait near Japan’s Okinawa Island the second time this month it has headed on their way to the Western Pacific.

Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force - guancha.cn
Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force – guancha.cn

China’s air force spokesman Shen Jinke said: “China’s Regular long range drills in the Western Pacific and patrols over the East China Sea air defense identification zone were for the Air Force to protect China’s sovereignty, national security and peaceful development.”

But analysts believe that the Sabre-rattling was meant as a strong message to Tokyo, after Japan’s new defense minister vowed to step up its military presence in the disputed South China Sea in joint training patrols with the United States.

Japanese Self Defense Force F-15 Eagle Fighter jets scrambled to intercept aggressor

Japan’s defence ministry said it scrambled a fighter jet as eight Chinese planes believed to ­include two fighters flew over the strait in the morning in the first such large-scale passage through the area by Chinese military ­aircraft, Kyodo reported.

China’s ties with Japan have been strained by a longstanding territorial dispute over a string of islets in the East China Sea, known in China as the Diaoyu and in Japan as the Senkaku. – JCE.