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Chinese aircraft monitored US, France, Canada, Japan naval drill -Global Times

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China deployed a reconnaissance plane over Pacific waters east of Taiwan last week that Chinese media said monitored and gathered intelligence on an exercise involving the navies of the United States, Japan, France and Canada.

A Y-9 cargo aircraft variant fitted with intelligence-gathering equipment most likely monitored and collected intelligence on the exercise, Chinese state-backed Global Times reported on Sunday, citing analysts.

Two U.S. aircraft carriers, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, had been operating around the geopolitically important Ryukyu Islands in the Philippine Sea since Thursday, Global Times cited a Beijing-based think tank as saying.

The islands separate the East China Sea from the Philippine Sea, and dot the West Pacific between Japan and Taiwan, which China claims as its territory.

On Friday, the U.S. kicked off the exercise in the Philippine Sea, with two carrier strike groups jointly operating for the first time since June 2020, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement.

The Japanese defence ministry reported the sighting of one Y-9 reconnaissance variant in the Pacific on Thursday.

Military encounters between China and the United States and its allies in the Western Pacific have risen in recent years as China has grown increasingly assertive in the East and South China Seas, as well as around Taiwan.

Days before the quadrilateral exercise, the coast guards of the Philippines, United States and Japan held their first trilateral exercise off the coast of a western Philippine province.

(Reporting by Albee Zhang and Ryan Woo. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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