‘Large’ Chinese military fleet flies near Japan isles
China police bust online gun ring, seize 1,180 guns
TOKYO: Japan scrambled jets after 11 Chinese military planes flew near southern Japanese islands during what Beijing said was a drill to improve its longrange combat abilities, reports said yesterday.
The planes-eight bombers, two intelligence gathering planes and one early-warning aircraft-flew near Miyako and Okinawa on Friday without violating Japan’s airspace, the Japanese defence ministry said in a statement released on Friday. Some of them flew between the two islands while others made flights close to neighboring islands, the ministry said.
A Chinese air force spokesman said several types of planes, including H-6K bombers, were involved in Friday’s drill over the western Pacific, China’s Xinhua news agency reported. Shen Jinke said such open sea exercises had improved the force’s long-distance combat abilities, according to Xinhua.
While there were no further comments from the Japanese ministry, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that it was “unusual” for China to dispatch such a large fleet close to Japan’s airspace and the ministry was analyzing the purpose of the mission.
Japan scrambles jets hundreds of times a year to defend its airspace, both against Russia and these days also against Chinese aircraft. Beijing has warned this is heightening tensions between the two Asian powerhouses, which are already at loggerheads over a longstanding territorial row in the East China Sea and Japanese military aggression in the first half of the 20th century.
The move comes with tensions running high in the South China Sea after a US warship sailed close to at least one land formation claimed by China, which has rattled its neighbors with its increasingly assertive stance in territorial disputes. China transformed reefs in the region into small islands capable of supporting military facilities, a move the US says threatens freedom of navigation in a region through which onethird of the world’s oil passes.
China insists on sovereignty over virtually all the resource-endowed South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by a handful of other countries. Washington has repeatedly said it does not recognize the Chinese claims.
Online gun ring
Police in China, where gun possession by ordinary people is illegal, have busted an online gun selling operation, seizing 1,180 guns and more than 6 million bullets, the state news agency Xinhua reported yesterday. A seven-month investigation that started when police happened across suspected gun parts in a package netted 18 people involved in the sale of guns in China via a website hosted on a US server, Xinhua said. The gun selling ring had made more than 4 million yuan ($625,537) in profit since 2012, according to a police officer quoted by Xinhua.
The manufacture and sale of guns is strictly regulated in China and individuals can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison if convicted of illegally possessing a gun. With such strict controls, private gun ownership is almost unheard of and gun crime is rare.
In April, police found items believed to be gun components in a package when inspecting a courier service, Xinhua quoted Lyu Ming, a police officer in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, as saying.
In the following months, police traced packages to five suspects in the central province of Hunan and raided a house they had used to sell guns, it said.
One suspect confessed that they had been in the online gun business since 2012, using a rented server in the United States. They posted advertisements online and recruited sales agents nationwide, Xinhua said. —Agencies