China's Military Flights Near Taiwan Look Like 'Rehearsals', Says Pentagon Chief

What is Beijing up to?
This handout photo taken and released on February 10, 2020 by Taiwan's Defense Ministry shows a Taiwanese F-16 fighter jet flying next to a Chinese H-6 bomber (top) in Taiwan's airspace. Taiwan said it scrambled fighter jets on Feb. 10 after Chinese military aircraft briefly crossed into its airspace, the first major military provocation since the island's Beijing-wary president was re-elected in a landslide.
Photo/s: Handout photo via Agence-France-Presse

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday said Chinese military flights near Taiwan look like "rehearsals" though he did not indicate that he expected Beijing actually to carry out such operations.

Cross-strait tensions have been rising in recent months, with Taiwan complaining for a year or more of repeated missions by China's air force near the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own.

"I don't want to speculate, but certainly ... it looks a lot like rehearsals," Austin said while speaking at a conference in California.

Military training flights by definition are rehearsals for potential operations.

China has not ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control, despite the island's claim that it is an independent country that will defend its freedom and democracy.

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