China Conducts Flyover of Waterways Near Japan, Taiwan

A Chinese air force Su-30 fighter, right, flies near an H-6K bomber as they take part in a drill on Sept. 25 near the East China Sea. (Shao Jing/Xinhua via AP)
A Chinese air force Su-30 fighter, right, flies near an H-6K bomber as they take part in a drill on Sept. 25 near the East China Sea. (Shao Jing/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING -- China patrolled the waters of a series of hotly contested islands Sunday, a day after staging a flyover of two strategically important waterways near Taiwan and Japan.

Chinese government statements said both weekend exercises were routine. The exercises come shortly after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen spoke to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, in a call strongly denounced by China, which considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory.

At least 10 Chinese planes on Saturday flew over the Miyako Strait between two Japanese islands, Taiwan's defense ministry said in a statement. Four planes also flew over the nearby Bashi Channel adjacent to Taiwan, according to the statement.

The waterways are two of the connections between the contested South and East China seas and the Pacific Ocean.

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Chinese state media then announced Sunday that three vessels patrolled the Senkaku islands, which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu.

China has staged previous flyovers of both waterways, including last month, as well as patrols of the area around the islands.

China did not mention Taiwan in either of its statements announcing the exercises. It instead accused the Japanese of scrambling two of its fighter jets to "interfere" with Chinese pilots, including the launching of "jamming shells, which endangered the safety of Chinese aircraft and crew."

Japan's defense ministry did not immediately respond to those allegations Sunday.

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