China to hold ‘monthly’ combat drills in South China Sea | Global News
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China to hold ‘monthly’ combat drills in South China Sea

/ 05:16 PM March 28, 2018
The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning steaming forward the South China Sea. —AFP

The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning steaming forward the South China Sea. —AFP

China’s military will hold combat exercises in the South China Sea every month “unlike in previous years,” a military analyst told China’s state-run Global Times.

The English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily announced early this week that it has started its combat exercises in West Pacific and the South China Sea.

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At the same time, the Chinese newspaper also announced that the monthly drills are aimed to test the navy’s combat readiness.

“The 2018 drills will be routine and will be held every month, unlike in previous years,” military expert Song Zhongping was quoted as saying in a Global Times article last Sunday.

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“The South China Sea and East China Sea will be primary battlegrounds. The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is committed to be battle-ready through simulated combat training,” Song added.

Wang Xiaopeng, a maritime border expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also told Global Times that “the drills do not target any specific country but they are focusing on enhancing China’s capability to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.”

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that China held large-scale naval exercises off Hainan Island in the South China Sea this week.

Satellite images from Planet Labs, which were obtained by the international news agency, showed at least 40 ships and submarines flanking China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, to which analysts described as “unusually large display of the Chinese military’s growing naval might.”

The report of the drills comes after the US-guided missile destroyer USS Mustin sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly archipelago. It is an island controlled by China but the international court ruled in The Hague ruled in 2016 that it belongs to the Philippines.

China referred to the US operation as a serious “military provocation.” /jpv

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