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News Link • China

China to hold large-scale air force drill

• Ben Blanchard via REUTERS
China's air force begins a five-day exercise on Tuesday with fighter jets, spy planes and helicopters, state media said, against a backdrop of increased diplomatic and military tensions with Washington.

Chinese media has announced several military drills over the past few weeks, including of naval forces. Such events are normally shrouded in secrecy and little reported on, but the military has recently said it is trying to be more open.

The increased activity comes as China and the United States have argued over joint U.S.-South Korean drills in the seas off South Korea, and coincides with Beijing's anger at U.S. comments about a sensitive territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

The new drills, featuring more than 12,000 soldiers, will take place across the central province of Henan and eastern coastal province of Shandong, which backs onto the Yellow Sea, the official Xinhua news agency said in a brief report.

Part of the "Vanguard 2010" exercises will take place at night, Xinhua said.

"This is an important part of the military region's annual exercises," the report added. It gave no further details.

The Chinese army-run Military Weekly newspaper said in a commentary that while the spate of exercises was normal and that China had no intention of "seeking hegemony", it would strike back at any threats to its interests.

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