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Chinese military aircraft flew through a strategic waterway between Okinawa’s main island and the island of Miyakojima a record 36 times in fiscal 2017, the Japanese Defense Ministry has announced, as China seeks to extend its reach further into the Western Pacific with what it calls “regular” exercises.

The number of flights over the strategic waterway between Okinawa Island and Miyakojima hit a record high of 36 in fiscal 2017, which ended in March, the ministry said Friday.

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