Chinese and Russian warplanes on November 30 hovered over the Pacific Ocean in a display of strengthened “mutual trust” amid growing tension with the West.

According to the The Associated Press, the Russian Ministry of Defense said its Tu-95MS bombers and Chinese H-6K bombers patrolled the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. The group was escorted by Russia’s Su-30sm and Su-35s aircraft.

The eight-hour mission saw each side’s bombers land at the other’s airfield for the first time. The statement claimed that no foreign airspace had been breached and the bombers had conducted themselves in compliance with international law.

In a brief statement, China called it a “routine joint aerial strategic patrol.”

However, Japan and South Korea both alleged that the warplanes entered their air defense zone that day, prompting their military to rush fighter jets in response.

According to the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI), Japan believed two Chinese H-6 bombers and two Russian aircraft entered the Sea of Japan before heading north. Korea claimed its air defense zone saw two Chinese H-6 bombers, four Russian Tu-95 bombers, and two Russian Su-35 fighters flying over. While the Russian aircraft appeared once, the Chinese bombers made two incursions that day.

The last time China and Russia conducted a joint patrol was in May. USNI pointed out that it happened while President Joe Biden met leaders from the Quad alliance in Tokyo, which included Australia, India, and Japan.

This time, the joint exercise occurred after a two-day meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO foreign ministers in Romania. 

China was on the agenda of the NATO ministerial meeting, when EURO News pointed out that the alliance has expanded its focus. In the past, their main attention was on the trans-Atlantic region.

Speaking to reporters on November 30, Blinken said that NATO members were concerned about China’s “coercive policies, by its use of disinformation, by its rapid, opaque military build‑up, including its cooperation with Russia.”

Before the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated, “China is not an adversary but it is stepping up military modernization, increasing its presence from the Arctic to the Western Balkans, from space to cyberspace, and seeking to control the critical infrastructure of NATO allies.”

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