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China cements Thai link with joint military exercises

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In a move that can only increase regional tensions, the Chinese air force is sending fighter jets and bombers to Thailand for a joint exercise with the Thai military.

The training will include air support, strikes on ground targets and small and large-scale troop deployment, the Chinese Defence Ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Saturday.

China’s growing military activities in the Asia-Pacific region have alarmed the United States and its Western allies and form part of a growing competition between the world’s two largest economies.

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China recently sent warships, missiles and aircraft into the waters and air around Taiwan in a threatening response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-ruled island, which China claims as its territory.

Sunday’s Falcon Strike exercise will be held at the Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in northern Thailand near the border with Laos.

Thai fighter jets and airborne early warning aircraft from both countries will also take part.

The training comes as the US holds combat drills in Indonesia with Australia, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore in the largest iteration of the Super Garuda Shield exercises since they began in 2009.

It also follows a visit by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to Thailand in June as part of an effort to strengthen what he called America’s “unparalleled network of alliances and partnerships” in the region.

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-AAP

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