China's image 'damaged' by treatment of Taiwan says expert
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Joint military drills involving the United States, Japan and the UK have been scheduled for November 10, the Japanese Defence Ministry said today, in the face of growing concern about China’s increasing belligerence.
Meanwhile, US Air Force B-1B bombers landed in Guam this week, marking the long-range aircraft’s second deployment to the island this year, with tensions rising over Taiwan and a possible resumption of nuclear testing by North Korea.
The drill, dubbed Keen Sword, takes place biennially around Japan and will involve 36,000 personnel, 30 vessels and 370 aircraft from Japan’s Self-defence Forces and the US military. It will run until November 19.
Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters: “By demonstrating Japan’s and the United States’ strong will and co-ordination, we aim to contribute to defending Japan and securing peace and safety of the region.”
Besides the two Pacific allies, Canada will be dispatching two vessels, while Australia and Britain will each send one warship to the drill, the ministry said.
Locations of the field training include Japan’s southwestern islands including Tokunoshima, which is closer to Taipei than to Tokyo.
At a Communist Party meeting that started on Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for accelerating China’s plans to build a world-class military and said his country would never renounce the right to use force to resolve the Taiwan issue.
China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, in accordance with its One China doctrine.
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However, Taiwan’s government strongly objects to China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.
A visit to the island in August by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered China, which subsequently launched military drills near the island. Those have continued, although on a much-reduced scale.
Separately, the US military yesterday confirmed the temporary deployment of the bombers to Guam, a US Pacific territory, as part of a “bomber task force” mission on Thursday, a day after aircraft-spotting websites reported their flight from home bases in the United States.
Asked if the mission was intended to send North Korea a message, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder told a briefing
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“It is meant to send a message that the United States stands closely with its allies and partners to deter potential provocation.”
The bombers’ presence is also aimed at demonstrating that the United States has the capability to conduct global operations at any time, he emphasised.
North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests this year, including launching one over Japan.
Officials in Washington and Seoul believe North Korea is gearing up for a resumption of nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.
North Korea has conducted a total of six nuclear tests since 2006.
The United States and its allies in South Korea and Japan have stepped up displays of military force in response to North Korea’s missile tests, including conducting naval drills with a US aircraft carrier and staging major field exercises for the first time in years.
B-1B bombers have participated in shows of force against North Korea in previous years. North Korea denounces military exercises by the United States and its allies as provocative and proof of hostile intentions.
During their temporary stay in Guam, the bombers will partner with unspecified allied forces for several training missions in the Indo-Pacific, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Mount, of US Air Force’s 37th Bomb Squadron, said: “The B-1 is an especially capable platform in this region, being able to travel large distances and bear significant firepower with precision and standoff munitions.”
Bomber task force missions “play a critical role in deterring potential adversaries and challenging their decision calculus”, another officer said.
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