Amid tension with US, Beijing conducts drill in South China Sea

Amid tension with US, Beijing conducts drill in South China Sea

A Chinese aircraft carrier departs from Hong Kong. - File photo

Beijing, May 2

China's Shandong aircraft carrier group has recently conducted routine annual exercises in the South China Sea, the People's Liberation Army said on Sunday after Beijing criticised the US for sending navy ships into the strategic area.

Last week, the Chinese Defence Ministry urged the US to restrain its frontline forces in the air and seas near China. US reconnaissance aircraft and warships have become more active around China since President Biden took office, it said. The South China Sea is particularly contentious because China's smaller neighbours also have competing claims to one of the world's busiest sea lanes, which Beijing claims virtually in its entirety. China has constructed several man-made islands in the disputed waters in what the US says is a move to militarise the area.

Navy spokesperson Gao Xiucheng said in a statement that the exercises were completely legitimate and part of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as maintaining regional peace and stability. “We hope the outside world will view it in an objective and rational way. In the future, the Chinese navy will continue to hold similar exercises as planned,” said Gao.

The Shandong is the second Chinese aircraft carrier to enter service after the Liaoning, which was originally purchased as a hulk from Ukraine and entirely refurbished. — Agencies

Philippines: Will continue exercises

Manila: The Philippines will continue maritime exercises inside its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone in the South China Sea, the country’s defence minister said on Sunday, despite a call by China to stop actions that it said could escalate disputes. The Philippine coastguard and fisheries bureau started maritime exercises last month, having boosted its presence in the area to counter the “threatening” presence of Chinese boats. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, despite a 2016 ruling by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague that Beijing's claim was inconsistent with international law. Reuters

Routine training: China

  • The maritime exercise was described as routine training and part of the Chinese navy’s annual work plan
  • The Shandong entered service in 2019
  • It is the second Chinese aircraft carrier to enter service after the Liaoning, which was originally purchased as a hulk from Ukraine and entirely refurbished

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