• BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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China announced Saturday that naval and aerial military exercises were conducted in areas southwest of Taiwan a day earlier for the second time in a month.

Combat ships, early-warning aircraft and bombers were among the forces that joined the exercises “to improve integrated operational capability” in territory southwest of Taiwan, Shi Yi, spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement Saturday, without saying how close to the democratically ruled island the drills were.

Shi said military exercises will be “conducted regularly” based on the situation in the Taiwan Strait and the need to maintain sovereign security. They came the day after Taiwan announced a $9 billion boost to military spending to counter the threat from China.

Shi described repeated collusion between the U.S. and Taiwan had become “the largest source of trouble” for security and stability in the area.

The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday that ten Chinese military aircraft, including two Y-8s, two J-11s, and six J-16s, were detected in Taiwan’s southwestern air defense identification zone.

The Chinese patrols and drills also coincided a transit by a U.S. destroyer in the Taiwan Strait on Friday, which the U.S. Navy called a “routine” passage through international waters.

The Eastern Theater Command, which overseas Chinese military in eastern China, said on Saturday in a separate statement that the USS Barry was monitored on its entire course.

Speaking Friday, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government had to take the threat from China seriously.

“The Chinese Communists plot against us constantly,” he said.

Taiwan’s defense spending “is based on safeguarding national sovereignty, national security, and national security. We must not relax. We must have the best preparations so that no war will occur,” he added.

China’s government, for its part, criticized Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Friday for comments this week in which he said Taiwan was a “sea fortress “blocking China’s expansion into the Pacific.

Wu’s “aim is to deceive public opinion, to rope in and collude with anti-China foreign forces,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement.

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