China to hold drills ahead of court ruling
CHINA will conduct military drills in the disputed South China Sea, the government said yesterday, ahead of an international tribunal ruling over Beijing’s maritime claims in the resource-rich area.
The drills will be held in waters around the Paracel Islands from July 5 to 11, with other ships prohibited from entering the waters during that time, a short statement by the maritime safety administration said.
The military exercises come as an international tribunal in The Hague prepares to rule on a case brought by the Philippines challenging China’s claims in the strategic waterway.
Manila lodged the suit against Beijing in early 2013, saying that after 17 years of negotiations it had exhausted all political and diplomatic avenues to settle the dispute.
Beijing, which asserts sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea despite rival claims from Southeast Asian neighbours, insists that the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no jurisdiction over the issue and has boycotted proceedings.
Basing its claims on a vaguely defined “nine-dash” Chinese map dating back to the 1940s, it has rapidly turned reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.
Manila contends that the “ninedash” line has no basis under international law and Beijing has no “historic” claim to the ocean.
Tensions in the South China Sea have alarmed other nations, and most notably the United States which has key treaties with many allies in the region.
But President Xi Jinping said in a speech last week that China will never compromise on sovereignty, and that the country was “not afraid of trouble”.
In a stab at the US, Mr Xi said, “We won’t show up at other people’s front doors to flex our muscles. That doesn’t show strength or scare any one.” –