‘Large’ Chi­nese mil­i­tary fleet flies near Ja­pan isles

China po­lice bust on­line gun ring, seize 1,180 guns

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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

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