Relations between Seoul and Beijing have been damaged by the ongoing North Korea crisis, particularly after the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system, which became fully operational in September.
To a casual observer, this may seem like a summary of the current tensions between North Korea and the USA - and it is.
China and Russian Federation had proposed that the United States and South Korea stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs.
About 28,500 USA troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. It then joined the Vigilant Ace drills on the Korean peninsula, where it flew with other USA and South Korean aircraft.
North Korea has condemned the drills, threatening to take action against the US and its regional allies.
Several F-35 stealth jets and F-16 fighters of the US, as well as F-15Ks and KF-16s of the South, joined the exercise at the Pilsung Firing Range in Gangwon Province, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
US B-1B bombers to fly over Korean peninsula on Wednesday -Yonhap
Wednesday's drill was part of the five-day Vigilant Ace air combat exercises, which are ongoing and involve hundreds of planes and thousands of service members, according to Yonhap News Agency.
North Korea hates such displays of American military might at close range and typically uses strong language to condemn them as invasion rehearsals. Its official KCNA state news agency said at the weekend that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration was "begging for nuclear war" by staging the drills.
But dozens of countries have violated global sanctions on Pyongyang in recent years, according to a new report by a Washington-based think tank.
Last week, North Korea test-launched its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile yet. Technical analysis of the missile's flight showed it broke up as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere. "Not a single person has made that call to us on the North Korea situation yet". McMaster said at a conference at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, "We are in a race to be able to solve this problem".
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham made similar statements on Sunday and called for the evacuation of USA military families to get them out of "harm's way".
The stealth fighters pose the biggest threat to Pyongyang.
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