China's defense ministry said on Thursday (24 August) 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.
Most of these drills allegedly took place when Chinese bombers flew over Taiwanese territories and Japan's southern island chain to the north of Taiwan.
"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!" the ministry statement read. It cited an air force spokesman, according to Reuters.
These "normal" drills follow international law and practices and are part of an "ordinary need" to raise combat abilities and strengthen the military, the statement reportedly added.
The foreign ministry also stated that a new round of long-range air drills were conducted on Thursday and more were scheduled in the coming days.
Although Beijing did not elaborate on when and where it conducted the latest exercise, the Japanese government said that six Chinese bombers flying from the East China Sea on Thursday passed close to its islands before proceeding towards the Pacific Ocean.
"It was the first time we have recorded Chinese military aircraft flying this route," Japan's Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera was quoted by Reuters as saying during a regular press briefing on Friday (25 August). "We expressed our concern through diplomatic channels."
The Taiwanese military had stated earlier in August that it was already on a high state of alert following three days of air drills conducted by the Chinese air force near its territory.
Taiwan, officially a part of the Republic of China, is a self-ruled region which China considers as its own.