TAIPEI (REUTERS) - China flew several fighter and reconnaissance aircraft near Taiwan in a training exercise, the self-ruled island's defence ministry said on Friday (July 21).
Despite decades of growing trade across the Taiwan Strait, China has never renounced the use of force, if necessary, to reclaim what it considers a breakaway province to which the defeated Nationalists fled after losing a civil war in 1949.
"We were in a position to monitor their movements from the beginning to the end," defence ministry spokesman Chen Chung Chi said, describing what he called a routine exercise. "There's nothing for our people to worry about."
The ministry released two photographs, one showing a Chinese warplane as it flew near Taiwan on Thursday.
The Chinese government has not issued a statement on the exercise.
In a similar military exercise last week, China flew six warplanes over the Miyako Strait between Japan's islands of Miyako and Okinawa to the north-east of Taiwan, which Taiwan's defence ministry said it had also monitored.
Such exercises were legal and proper and Japan should "get used to it", China's defence ministry said at the time.
The flyover by the formation of Xian H-6 bombers was "unusual", Japan's defence ministry said in a statement, but added there had been no violation of the country's airspace.
China's navy and air force have held exercises in the Western Pacific in recent months, as they hone their ability to operate far from home shores.