A photo dispatched by the PLAAF shows an H-6K bomber above the Taiwan Strait. Photo: PLA
A photo dispatched by the PLAAF shows an H-6K bomber above the Taiwan Strait. Photo: PLA

Beijing says the commotion on the part of foreign media caused by a spike in the number of Chinese warplanes seen above the Western Pacific since last week has blown things out of proportion.

Multiple squadrons of Chinese warplanes, including H-6K bombers, sheared through Taiwan’s air border as well as the first island chain last week, at a scale and frequency unprecedented in previous “freedom of navigation” overflights by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

An H-6K bomber takes off from an airbase in central China’s Shaanxi province. Photo: PLAAF

Though the PLA flyover has shown no sign of abating, party mouthpiece People’s Daily and its sister newspaper Global Times have dismissed foreign reports as “misleading.”

The London-based tabloid Daily Star has been singled out for its “laughably inaccurate” reportage after the paper claimed that the PLAAF’s H-6Ks had been made capable of launching a nuclear blitz on a 24/7 standby, linking the deployment to the Donald Trump administration’s rumored decision to arm the ginormous B-52 Stratofortress bombers with thermonuclear weapons and put them on continuous airborne alert, for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

Similar reports have also appeared in other major newspapers including the South China Morning Post.

Global Times noted on Monday that H-6Ks were always maintained and deployed for swift response to emergencies, the same as other strategic PLAAF warplanes, but that didn’t mean the bombers would be on a 24-7 alert to launch strikes.

“Even amateur military fans will laugh at the claim that H-6Ks can drop nuclear bombs, as the bombers were not designed to do that in the first place and China does not have thermonuclear weapons that can be [dropped] from a bomber,” said the paper, quoting an anonymous expert with the PLAAF.

“H-6Ks are a modernized version of the aging H-6 series and they do not have any stealth capabilities, [and have] a smaller [fuel] tank and payload than those of B-52s.”

But Global Times cited a separate analysis by the Taipei-based Liberty Times, highlighting the fact that the H-6Ks that repeatedly appeared on Taiwan’s radars actually took off from airbases in central China’s Shaanxi province, more than 1,500 kilometers from the island.

“Unlike warplanes ascending from the mainland’s coastal areas, the Taiwanese military will be hard put detecting bombers from this [far away], and once they do see these mainland bombers, everything will be too late for Taiwan,” said the report.

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