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Saturday, December 19, 2015, 13:51

US flight near Nansha islands 'serious military provocation'

By Agencies

BEIJING — China on Saturday said the flight of two B-52 strategic bombers over the area near the Nansha Islands was a serious military provocation and such actions must be prevented.

The two US bombers flew into the airspace near an island and reef of the Nansha Islands early on Dec 10. Military personnel on the island and reef went on high alert and warned the aircraft to leave, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

The United States has continuously sent military ships and planes to make a show of force and create tensions in the waters and airspace, according to the ministry.

Such actions have severely threatened the safety of Chinese personnel and facilities as well as peace and stability of the region, it said.

The actions by the US side were a serious military provocation, creating complex conditions in the South China Sea and even militarization in the region, it said.

The ministry demanded the United States immediately adopt measures to prevent such dangerous actions in order to prevent damaging relations between the two militaries and countries.

The Chinese armed forces will take whatever measures necessary to safeguard China's national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability of the region, according to the ministry.

The Pentagon said it was looking at Chinese complaints about the flight.

Navy Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, said the United States regularly conducts B-52 training missions throughout the region but there was no plan for the B-52 to fly within 12 nautical miles of any artificial island.

"This was not a freedom of navigation operation," said Urban, indicating that the planes may have strayed off course.

"The Chinese have raised concerns with us about the flight path of a recent training mission," Urban said. "We are looking into the matter."

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