Japan, S Korea will get used to PLA military exercises: expert
The flights by Chinese bombers in the air zone close to the South Korean and Japanese airspace were related to routine training and not targeted at any specific country, and Japan's reaction to the flights was unnecessary, an expert said.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy spokesperson Liang Yang said Tuesday, "The Chinese naval air force on Monday conducted a surface-aircraft synergetic drill with Chinese Navy's warships in the area [the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea]. The drill is an annual routine military training, is not aimed at any specific country, region or target, is in accordance with international law and practice, and will continue to be held in future."
Japan scrambled Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets Monday after eight PLA military aircraft were detected flying over the East China Sea and Sea of Japan, Japanese defense ministry's Joint Staff Office said on Monday.
These Chinese planes consisted of six H-6 bombers, one early warning plane and one intelligence-gathering plane, and there was no violation of Japan's airspace, the Japan defense ministry said.
Although the PLA Navy officially said this was an annual routine training, the participation of a group of six bombers was unusual and the scale of the drill was bigger than normal, said Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert.
"Bombers are meant for attack and H-6 can carry medium-range missiles, so the training might be related to attacking large surface vessels, and that's why South Korea and Japan became nervous," Li said. "They will get used to it, because this kind of training will not stop but increase in future."
However, it seems South Korea detected more Chinese planes than Japan. A "government source" told the Yonhap News Agency that "around 10 Chinese military planes entered the South Korean air defense identification zone (KADIZ) for hours on Monday, prompting South Korea to launch a sortie of fighter jets."
Yonhap reported that Chinese planes flew into the KADIZ near Suyan Rock "several times" from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. South Korea countered by sending some 10 fighter jets including F-15Ks and KF-16s to the area.
Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday that this kind of training in the West Pacific area is very normal and was not held for the first time, so there is no need to hype up Chinese military planes' flyby.
"But Japan might have its own agenda, because it needs to hype up the 'China threat theory' to find excuse for its militarization," Song said.