China sends fighters to Thailand for joint exercises

BANGKOK (AP) — The Chinese air force will send fighter jets and bombers to Thailand for a joint exercise with the Thai military on Sunday. The training will include air support, attacks on ground targets, and large- and small-scale troop deployments, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

China’s growing military activities in the Asia-Pacific region have alarmed the United States and its allies. They are part of a growing strategic and economic competition that has inflamed tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Thailand in June as part of a bid to strengthen what he called the US’s “unparalleled network of alliances and partnerships” in the region.

The military exercise, called Hawk Strike, will be held at the Royal Thai Air Force Base Udorn, near the border with Laos. Thai fighter jets and early warning aircraft from both countries will also participate.

The practices come as the United States conducts war exercises in Indonesia with forces from Australia, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore in the largest iteration of the Super Garuda Shield exercises since they began in 2009.

It also follows China’s dispatch of warships, missiles and aircraft into the waters and airspace surrounding Taiwan in a threatening response to a visit to the autonomous island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. China claims Taiwan as its territory.

Kurt Campbell, one of President Joe Biden’s top Indo-Pacific advisers, said Friday that the United States would take decisive action to support Taiwan, including sending warships and planes through the 160-meter waterway. kilometers (100 miles) wide separating Taiwan and China.

“We will continue to fly, navigate and operate where international law allows, in accordance with our long-standing commitment to freedom of navigation,” he declared in a video call with journalists. “And that includes conducting standard air and sea transits through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks,” he added.

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