Chinese Navy steps up exercises in South China Sea

Chinese Navy has carried out more exercises in disputed South China Sea, Chinese Defence Ministry says

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Kalayaan island in the Spratlys, a chain of islets in the South China Sea (AFP/Archive)

Chinese Defence Ministry said on Sunday that Chinese Navy stepped up its military exercises over the past days in the disputed South China Sea, calling them as part of its routine drills.

China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea. In the waters, more than five trillion dollar of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan also have same claims on the waters.

"The People's Liberation Army Navy in recent days organised a fleet to go to relevant seas in the South China Sea, by way of the Western Pacific, to carry out exercises," the ministry said in a brief statement.

"This action is a routine arrangement made in accordance with this year's naval training plan," it added, without giving further detail.

Chinese state media on its Twitter account has posted pictures of Chinese navy ships involved in live-fire exercises in the South China Sea in recent days, without saying where exactly the exercises were carried out.

China frequently announces such exercises in the South China Sea to show its transparency about military deployments of the country.

China and the United States have disputed over the strategic waterway.

The US criticised China for building artificial islands in the South China Sea’s disputed area of Spratly archipelago and positioned sea and air patrols near the disputed location.

Last month, US flew its B-52 bombers near some of the artificial islands constructed by China and at the end of October a US guided-missile destroyer came within 23 nautical miles of China’s claimed waters, which sparked tension in the area.

China has been accusing the US of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the disputed waters.

The US Department of Defense said in a statement that the US and Singapore “agreed on a broad framework for defence cooperation in five key areas, namely in the military, policy, strategic and technology spheres, as well as cooperation against non-conventional security challenges, such as piracy and transnational terrorism."

Last week, China expressed its concern about the agreement between the two country to deploy a US P8 Poseidon spy plane in Singapore to monitor the disputed location, saying the move was aimed at militarising the region. The plane is able to carry torpedoes and cruise missiles.

TRTWorld and agencies