April 27 (UPI) — The U.S. Air Force flew two B-52 bombers earlier this week near disputed islands in the South China Sea following recent Chinese exercises that were conducted to warn Taiwan, according to Taiwanese press reports.
Taiwan’s United Daily News reported Thursday the two aircraft passed over the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.
The area covered by the U.S. bombers was about 155 miles away from the coast of China’s Guangdong Province.
The aircraft also came close to the disputed Dongsha or Pratas Islands.
The flights, which occurred on Tuesday, were a response to Chinese military drills held April 18 near Taiwan, Taiwan News reported.
Last week, China’s People’s Liberation Army held naval live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait, situated between Taiwan and China’s Fujian Province.
The bombers had flown from their base in Guam, according to the report.
The United States previously deployed B-52s to the region during a period of high tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesman for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, warned “Taiwan’s separatists” on Wednesday.
“We have strong will, full confidence and sufficient ability to defeat separatist attempts for ‘Taiwan independence’ in any form, and safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ma said, according to Xinhua.
Further actions would be taken if Taiwanese factions opposing Beijing show signs of independence, the Chinese government said, without clarifying the actions at issue.
Chinese H-6K bombers were circling Taiwan during the April 18 drills.