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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's navy has again sailed through the Miyako Strait that lies between two Japanese islands and carried out drills in the Western Pacific, state news agency Xinhua said.

The Chinese navy and air force have in recent months carried out a series of exercises in the Pacific, as they hone their ability to operate far from their home shores.

Xinhua, in a report late on Thursday, said the drills involved "exercises in communication, fleet formation changes, joint search-and-rescue operation and joint anti-piracy operation".

The drills are aimed at improving training and emergency response capabilities far out at sea, Chen Denan, chief of staff of the Chinese fleet.

"The drills are about enhancing communication and mutual trust, conveying a message of peace and friendship, and helping the fleet adapt to the demands of diversified military tasks," Chen told Xinhua.

The Miyako Strait is a body of water between Japan's islands of Miyako and Okinawa that also sits to the northeast of self-ruled Taiwan, that China claims as its own.

China's navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around and new warships appearing in far-flung places.

China this week launched its second aircraft carrier, and the first domestically developed one, but it is not expected to enter service until about 2020.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

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