In an apparent bid to demonstrate their country’s maritime capability, Chinese naval forces conducted a large-scale exercise complete with live fire drills on Tuesday in the hotly-contested West Philippine Sea.
As reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, China’s National Defense Ministry announced that 100 ships, dozens of aircraft and hundreds of “information warfare” troops joined in the exercise which also involved firing missiles, torpedos and jamming bombs.
The exercises were done to test the navy and air force’s early warning system and reaction time, the Ministry said.
No Excessive Interpretation Please
Defending his country’s exercise, Chinese naval spokesman Liang Yang warned other countries not to think too much about the drill.
“Holding sea drills is a common practice for navies with various countries,” he said, and added that the exercise was meant “to test the troops’ real combat abilities, boost their manoeuvrability, search and rescue power and the abilities to fulfil diversified military missions.”
Elaborating further, Liang said the exercises were necessary given that China was being targeted as an “imaginary enemy” by a “powerful country outside the region”—a thinly veiled reference to the United States.
“Their activities—deploying vessels and aircraft on recon missions—pose a severe threat to our country’s territory and sovereignty security and maritime interests while harming regional security, stability and the navigational freedom in the [West Philippine] Sea,” he said.
The US, which is an ally of the China’s rival claimant the Philippines, has repeatedly called on the Asian giant to stop its construction of several man-made islands in the West Philippine Sea, saying their presence has contributed to further instability in the resource-rich and accessibly-important region.
China on the other hand, has rebuffed US overtures several times, saying the dispute is a regional issue and should not be intruded upon by outsiders.
Additionally, Beijing has also condemned Manila several times for trying to drag Washington into the maritime row.