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China air force in west Pacific drill

NANJING, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Aircraft of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force flew over the Miyako Strait for the first time Thursday for training in western Pacific, a military spokesperson said.

The aircraft returned to base after successfully completed the drill, which aims to "level up the PLA Air Force's mobility and combativeness" over the high seas, according to Shen Jinke.

The drill area was within international airspace, and no civil international flights were disrupted, Shen said.

This is the PLA's second such drill in two months. Its air force conducted its first-ever exercise over the western Pacific via the Bashi Channel in late March.

The drill is a routine exercise included in the air force's annual training plans and conforms to common practices of other maritime nations. It is not targeted at any particular country, regions or targets, Shen said, adding that similar drills may be planned in the future.

"In line with international laws and practices, offshore drills by the PLA Air Force beyond the First Island Chain will proceed in consideration of actual situations," the spokesman said.

The First Island Chain refers to a series of islands that stretch from Japan in the north to Taiwan and the Philippines to the south.

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