CHINA has flown a long-range nuclear-capable bomber over the South China Sea as tensions over Taiwan continue to grow after comments from US president-elect Donald Trump.
American defence officials believe the dramatic show of strength was meant as a ‘don’t mess with us’ warning to the Trump administration which has ruffled feathers in Beijing over its stance on Taiwan.
Relations between the US and China have soured dramatically since Mr Trump’s shock election victory last month.
He had been critical of trade arrangements between Washington and Beijing during his election campaign and then provoked outrage when he accepted a congratulatory call from Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen.
Chinese H6 long-range nuclear-capable bomber
n his latest comments the president-elect suggested he would use America’s decades-long ‘One China’ policy as a bargaining chip in negotiations with China to extract future trade concessions.
Beijing said it would have no reason to “put peace above using force to take back Taiwan” if Mr Trump chose to abandon the policy which recognises Taiwan as part of China.
The Chinese H-6 bomber flew along the disputed ‘Nine-Dash line’ which surrounds the South China Sea and dozens of disputed Chinese islands.
The Pentagon said it was the first long-range flight of a Chinese bomber along the U-shaped line of demarcation since March 2015.
Tensions are rising over Taiwan because of Donald Trump’s stance on ‘One China’
Officials said Chinese bombers flew over the South China Sea and the contested islands over the summer but they did not venture as far as this latest sortie.
At various points in recent long-range flights, Chinese fighter jets have provided escorts to the single Chinese bomber.
Officials said US intelligence satellites have spotted components for the Chinese version of the SA-21 surface-to-air missile system at the port of Jieyang, in southeast China, where officials say China has made similar military shipments in the past to its islands in the South China Sea.
China has also been seen by US intelligence satellites preparing to ship more advanced surface-to-air missiles to disputed islands in the South China Sea.
A Chinese business magazine featuring Donald Trump on its front cover
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “Adherence to the One China policy is the political bedrock for development of bilateral relations.
“If it is compromised or disrupted, the sound and steady growth of the China-US relationship as well as bilateral cooperation in major fields would be out of the question.
“We urge the new US leadership to recognise the sensitivity of the Taiwan question and to deal with it in a prudent manner.
“Upholding the One China policy was America’s promise and we want them to fulfil this promise.”