China to conduct South China Sea military exercises

Drills to take place the same week that China complained about a US aircraft carrier group sailing through the waters.

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy patrol at Woody Island, in the disputed Paracel islands. China plans to hold military exercises in the South China Sea this week [File: Stringer/Reuters]

China said on Tuesday it will conduct military exercises in the South China Sea this week, just days after complaining that a US aircraft carrier group had sailed through the disputed waters.

A notice issued by the country’s Maritime Safety Administration prohibited entry into a portion of waters in the Gulf of Tonkin to the west of the Leizhou Peninsula in southwestern China from January 27 to January 30, but did not include details on when the drills would take place or on their scale.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt led a group of ships into the South China Sea on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said, days after Joe Biden began his term as president.

China claims sovereignty over the entire sea based on its historic “nine-dash line” and has been increasingly assertive in recent years, building military bases on rocky outcrops and deploying its coastguard and maritime militia. The waters are also claimed by the littoral states – Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei – as well as Taiwan – and have become another flashpoint in the testy bilateral relationship between Beijing and Washington as the US military has stepped up activities in the sea.

China on Monday complained that US action to “flex its muscles” was not conducive to peace and stability in the region.

A Chinese naval Z-9 helicopter prepares to land on the PLA frigate CNS Huangshan (FFG-570) in the South China Sea [File: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Byron C Linder/Handout via Reuters]
Source: Reuters