The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is scheduling drills in “new routes and areas” that are meant to send a signal to the United States and South Korea as tensions increase with North Korea.

Air force spokesman Shen Jinke made the announcement at an airport in northern China on Monday – the same day the United States and South Korea began their biggest joint air force exercise, according to Chinese media.

The announcement also comes after North Korea launched an ICBM that traveled farther than any previous missile test last week.

Without specifying the date or exact location of the drills, Shen said warplanes had ventured into unknown areas, adding that this kind of training would become a regular feature as the air force worked to strengthen its capabilities so that it was ready to safeguard China’s strategic interests.

The exercise involved aircraft including reconnaissance planes, fighter jets, an early warning and control aircraft, and a joint operation with surface-to-air missile units, he said.

“The timing of this high-profile announcement by the PLA is also a warning to Washington and Seoul not to provoke Pyongyang any further,” Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said. [source]

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