China conducts large scale aerial bombing drill after US-Japan statement on Taiwan

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Beijing [China], April 21 (ANI): China conducted a large scale aerial bombardment exercise over the weekend as tensions escalated over Taiwan, following a joint statement by the United States and Japan.

The People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theatre Command, which oversees the Taiwan Strait, deployed dozens of H-6K strategic bombers in a nine-hour live-fire drill, South China Morning Post reported citing state television.

The bombers took off in groups from a military airport in eastern China in combat formations amid low-visibility conditions and headed towards an "unknown shooting range", the CCTV report said.

During their flights the H-6Ks, which have a maximum load capacity of 15 tonnes, also practised electronic countermeasures with air-defence missile units. Once they reached their target airspace, they dropped free-fall aerial bombs from different altitudes, the report said.

"The long hours, high-intensity, day-night training has quickly increased the [air force's] assault abilities and improved actual combat capabilities," CCTV said.

"It's a large-scale drill, with many bombs being dropped. There are no big shooting ranges in the eastern and southern theatre commands," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The exercise came after the US and Japanese leaders mentioned Taiwan in a joint statement, a first since 1969.

On Friday, in their first in-person meeting at the White House, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden said in their joint statement that they "underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait" and "encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues."

Taiwan has welcomed a joint statement issued by Japan and the United States affirming the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

According to Kyodo News, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou on Saturday said the Taiwan government is happy to see the United States and Japan are concerned about the current state of security in the Indo-Pacific region.

"The Taiwan government would like to express our most sincere welcome and gratitude," Ou said, as reported by Kyodo News.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.

China has threatened that "Taiwan's independence" means war. (ANI)