TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Friday, Chinese Sukhoi Su-35 jets and Xian H-6K strategic bombers for the first time flew over the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan from the Philippines, the Chinese Air Force said.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force described the joint mission as a “new breakthrough” in its flights “around the island,” the Liberty Times reported.
Over the past few months, China has repeatedly sent its warships and military aircraft into waters and skies close to Taiwan, sometimes right into the island country’s Air Defense Identification Zone, in moves designed to intimidate the government of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
The Chinese Air Force said a new element in the flights was that they occurred simultaneously in both directions north and south of Taiwan in collaboration with early-warning aircraft. Its statement only mentioned “Taiwan Island,” not Japan, even though the jets also passed over air space between Taiwan and Japan, the Central News Agency noted.
Previous Voice of America reports have indicated that China was stationing the Su-35 with S-400 anti-aircraft missiles at the Zhanjiang base in Guangdong Province, thus upsetting the military balance in the area, the Liberty Times reported.