China holds air and sea drills as North Korea fires missiles again

26 August 2017

Chinese navy on Friday held live fire drills in the Indian Ocean and flew bombers near Japanese and Taiwanese territories even as its ally North Korea fired missiles into the East China Sea in defiance of the United Nations, which has imposed additional sanctions on the rogue regime in Pyongang.

China's state-run news agency Xinhua said on Friday that Chinese warships carried out live fire drills in the western part of the Indian Ocean.

The Chinese military did not clarify the reason behind the drills, but these come at a time when China's ally North Korea has taken a threatening posture against the United States, heightening the possibility of a US-led strike on the rogue state.

India has, however, expressed concern over Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean.

Not only the navy, the Chinese air force has been active over South and the East China Sea.

Chinese Defence ministry in a statement said, "No matter what obstructions are encountered, the Chinese air force will carry on as before; no matter who flies with us, the Chinese air force will fly a lot and as normal!".

North Korea launched at least three ballistic missiles into the east Sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Saturday morning,, resuming a provocative act despite Washington's diplomacy-first approach toward the rogue regime.

The North fired "several unidentified projectiles" from the vicinity of Kitdaeryong in Kangwon Province starting at around 6:49 am, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Some of those flew more than 250 kilometers in a north-eastern direction, it added.

The US Pacific Command said, "Initial assessment indicates three short-range ballistic missile launches."

The first and third missiles failed in flight, while the second appears to have blown up almost immediately, according to a statement issued by the US Pacific Command in Hawaii, which monitors North Korean missiles.

All three appeared to be short-range missiles, rather than the long-range types designed to be able to strike the United States, and were launched from Kittaeryong on North Korea's east coast.

The North American Aerospace Defence Command said the launches of short-range missiles from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.

The launches coincide with joint exercises between the US and South Korean militaries, exercises that North Korea always strongly protests because it considers them preparation for an invasion.

"We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment and we will provide a public update if warranted," Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for Pacific Command, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Chinese bombers flew over Taiwanese territories and Japan's southern island chain to the north of Taiwan. The Chinese air drills coincided US reconnaissance flights over the Korean peninsula following Kim Jong-un's Guam threat.

China's defence ministry had, on Thursday, said that the country will not stop carrying out its long-range air drills as those are in accordance with international law and practices.

The statement reportedly came after both Taiwan and Japan raised concerns about the regular air exercises, the latest of which saw China fly bombers close to Taiwanese and Japanese territories.

Japan has been trying to fend off hostile activity in the Korean peninsula against North Korea's menacing postures and increased Chinese activity in the region, making the region more volatile

Japan and US conducted a joint military excercise two weeks - the largest-scale military drill to be held between the two countries - as tensins continued unabated.

North Korea, on the other hand, said the US-Japanese joint exercises were evidence that the United States planned to invade North Korea.

"The reality vividly shows that the US ambition for stifling [North Korea] remains unchanged no matter how much water may flow under the bridge and the puppet group's ambition for invading the north remains unchanged," the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

The United States and its "puppets" in South Korea should "act with discretion if they want to evade the historic moment of death," the statement said.

North Korea's state media also last week reported that leader Kim Jong Un visited the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defence Sciences and inspected designs for two new long-range missiles, raising the threat of a chemical attack as well.

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