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Chinese and Russian nuclear bombers fly over Sea of Japan as Biden visits Tokyo

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Chinese and Russian strategic bombers flew over the Sea of Japan as Joe Biden attended a Quad summit in Tokyo, in a joint train the Japanese authorities denounced as “unacceptable”.

The nuclear-capable bombers carried out a joint flight on Tuesday that started over the Sea of Japan because the US president was assembly his counterparts from Japan, Australia and India, Japanese and US officers mentioned.

Moscow mentioned the 13-hour flight was carried out “strictly in accordance with the provisions of international law” and was not directed in opposition to third international locations. But Nobuo Kishi, Japan’s defence minister, condemned the train as “provocative” and “unacceptable”.

A US official mentioned the train confirmed China was persevering with army co-operation with Russia within the Indo-Pacific “even as Russia brutalises Ukraine”.

“It also shows that Russia will stand with China in the East and South China Seas, not with other Indo-Pacific states,” the official mentioned.

Russia and China carried out joint nuclear bomber workouts over the Sea of Japan in 2019, 2020 and 2021, however Tuesday’s flight was the primary time such a manoeuvre occurred with a US president within the area.

The workouts have been held on the ultimate day of Biden’s journey to Asia as he participated in a summit of the Quad — the safety group of the US, Japan, Australia and India that China has criticised as an Asian “Nato”.

From left, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, US president Joe Biden, Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi in Tokyo on Tuesday © Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

Chinese analysts have beforehand cited one function of the joint bomber patrols with Russia as warning the US in opposition to “stirring up trouble” with initiatives such because the Quad.

Russia’s defence minister mentioned the Russian Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers and Chinese H-6 bombers had carried out air patrols over the Japan and East China Seas.

“The aircraft of both countries acted strictly in accordance with the provisions of international law,” the Russian ministry mentioned. “There were no violations of the airspace of foreign states.”

The workouts have been carried out as tensions mount over Taiwan, a democratic nation over which China claims sovereignty. Over the previous yr, China has flown growing giant sorties of fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan, in what US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has described as rehearsals for army motion in opposition to the island.

Biden on Monday vowed to make use of army pressure to intervene if China attacked Taiwan. His remark appeared to overturn the US coverage of “strategic ambiguity” wherein Washington doesn’t specify whether or not it will come to Taiwan’s defence.

Asked on Tuesday if his feedback meant that “strategic ambiguity” was defunct, Biden mentioned that “the policy has not changed at all”.

In one other illustration of the rising concern about Taiwan, significantly within the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, Admiral Michael Studeman, the highest intelligence officer at US Indo-Pacific Command, is visiting Taipei, the place he met senior safety officers, based on one individual aware of the state of affairs.

Admiral John Aquilino, head of US Indo-Pacific Command, lately instructed the Financial Times that the invasion of Ukraine ought to be a reminder to not be complacent about Taiwan.

The joint Russian-Chinese bomber sortie is a part of army co-operation that analysts mentioned approached the extent between allies, though each international locations insist their relationship shouldn’t be an alliance.

The US has grow to be extra vigilant about China-Russia relations since Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin described their friendship as having “no limits” in February.

The US official mentioned the newest workouts underscored the hyperlink between European and Indo-Pacific safety and bolstered the necessity to bolster alliances and propel a imaginative and prescient for freedom shared by like-minded nations.

“The joint statement Putin and Xi released . . . advocated a world where, whether in eastern Europe or the western Pacific, China and Russia would have their own spheres of influence where it would be natural and acceptable to wield their power against their neighbours,” the official added. “They are working together to advance that vision.”

China’s overseas ministry didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Additional reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo and Kathrin Hille on Twitter

Video: Will China and the US go to conflict over Taiwan?

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