A Chinese J-11 fighter jet flies near a US Navy aircraft about 215km east of Hainan on August 19, 2014. Photo: Reuters / US Navy / Handout

(From AFP)

China has sent fighter planes for the first time over a strait near Japan, the two governments said Monday, after Tokyo announced it may patrol alongside the US in the disputed South China Sea.

More than 40 Chinese military aircraft on Sunday traversed the Miyako Strait between Japan’s Miyako and Okinawa Islands, to carry out training in the West Pacific, according to a statement on China’s defense ministry website.

The Sukhoi Su-30 fighters, bombers and refueling aircraft did not violate Japanese airspace.

Japan’s defense ministry said it was the first time Chinese fighters had passed over the strait.

The drill is aimed at “testing far sea combat capabilities”, the Chinese statement said. It follows China’s first military flight, carried out by spy planes, over the Miyako Strait last year.

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