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China flew bombers around Taiwan before Trump's call with Taiwanese leader

A Taiwanese soldier secures the perimeter of an C-130 transport plane during a search-and-rescue exercise off Taiping island in the South China Sea Nov. 29 as part of efforts to cement its claim to a key island in the strategically vital waterbody. (AP/Johnson Lai)

In the week before President-elect Donald Trump made waves by accepting a call from Taiwan’s president, China reportedly flew two long-range nuclear-equipped bombers around Taiwan, collecting surveillance on American allies.

A Taiwanese defense official explained the Chinese action on Focus Taiwan News Channel: "This was the first time that Chinese aircraft circled around Taiwan," Deputy National Defense Minister Lee Hsi-ming said.

From Fox News:

On Nov. 26, two Chinese Xian H-6 bombers, along with two escort planes, a Tupolev Tu-154 and Shaanxi Y-8, flew around the island of Taiwan from mainland China, taking off and landing from two separate Chinese military bases.

The escort jets were used to collect radar information and conduct other surveillance on American allies such as Japan, Fox News is told. The Chinese bombers stayed in international airspace, according to officials.

Trump's conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ying-wen on Friday was seen as a challenge to China since Taiwan desires to be independent from China.

A defense expert from a D.C. think tank explained that China's movement near Taiwan isn't technically illegal under international law and is especially hard to criticize since the U.S. is flying its own aircraft near China, but it illustrates a more aggressive posture by China, according to reports from Fox News:

"China has steadily built up a massive military capability in the area around Taiwan. This isn't simply a matter of flying bombers. Understand that technically, we can't object to flying bombers near Taiwan if we are flying combat aircraft and reconnaissance aircraft near China. This is simply legal under international law," Anthony H. Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said. "Taiwan faces a much more serious Chinese challenge than it has ever faced before."
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