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Chinese warplanes fly patrols over South China Sea

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Chinese state media has released footage of warplanes flying long-range patrols over the South China Sea.

Chinese state media has released footage of warplanes flying long-range patrols over the South China Sea.

The video shows air crews running to their Su-30MKK Flanker aircraft at an air base in Southern China, reports The Drive.

After take-off, the jets rendezvous with an aerial tanker for refuelling before passing over the Spratly Islands in the disputed waterway. Some of the warplanes are loaded with air-to-air missiles for the 10-hour mission.

The images aim to portray the power of the People's Liberation Army Air Force and come after a series of naval exercises in the South China Sea by the US and its allies, including Australia.

READ MORE: Australia says China claims to disputed waterway are illegal

China has built airstrips on many of its island holdings in the region, including man-made islands atop coral reefs. It is not clear if the aircraft in the video landed on them.

The waters are a major shipping route for global commerce and are rich in fish and possible oil and gas reserves.

Here is a round-up of recent developments in the South China Sea.

China, Australia spar on Twitter

Chinese and Australian diplomats sparred on Twitter over Beijing's actions in the South China Sea following Australia's endorsement of a US statement that it would recognise virtually none of China's territorial claims there.

Australia recently filed a memorandum with the United Nations saying the claims were "without legal basis," plunging Canberra into the controversy that has drawn angry responses from Beijing.

READ MORE: South China Sea dispute: What spike in tensions mean for Australia

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O'Farrell announces his resignation. (AAP)

Australian High Commissioner Barry O'Farrell tweeted on Thursday he told India's Minister of External Affairs that China's moves were "destabilising and could provoke escalation."

Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong responded Friday by accusing O'Farrell of "disregarding facts," writing: "It's clear who safeguard peace&stability & destabilize&provoke escalations in the region."

O'Farrell shot back saying China should follow a 2016 international tribunal ruling that rejected most of Beijing's claims. China has denounced the ruling as "illegal" and without any "binding force."

China bombers hold drills over sea

China said long-range bombers were among the aircraft that took part in recent aerial drills over the South China Sea amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over the strategic waterway.

The exercises included night-time take-offs and landings and simulated long-range attacks, Defence Ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said.

Among the planes were H-6G and H-6K bombers, upgraded versions of aircraft long in use in China's military, Ren said.

He said the exercises had been previously scheduled and were aimed at boosting pilot abilities to operate under all conditions, regardless of weather or time of day. It wasn't clear whether live bombs were used.

US, Australia criticise China

US and Australian diplomats and defence ministers pledged to renew and strengthen a united front against China and what they termed Beijing's malign behaviour throughout the region and beyond.

The nations - represented by Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and the US by Secretary of Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper – last Tuesday accused China of violating international norms in the South China Sea and vowed to uphold freedom of navigation and the rule of the law as well as democratic freedoms in Hong Kong.

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- With AP

Source: 9News

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