CHINA has sent bombers and fighter jets on “combat patrols” near contested islands in the South China Sea in a move that will set tensions running even higher in the region.

A senior colonel said the exercise was part of an effort to normalise such drills and respond to security threats.

The patrols come at a tense time in the disputed south east Asian waters after The Hague ruled last month that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea.

Earlier this week Chinese warships were pictured firing live missiles over the disputed waters in a awe inspiring show of strength.

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