China, Russia hold military drills at sea
CHINA and Russia have started war games in the South China Sea, Beijing’s defence ministry said, in a show of force after an international tribunal invalidated the Asian giant’s extensive claims in the area.
The eight-day joint exercises will include a focus on “seizing and controlling” islands and shoals, Chinese navy spokesperson Liang Yang said.
They will involve surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, shipborne helicopters, marine corps and amphibious armoured equipment from both navies. “Compared with previous joint drills, these exercises are deeper and more extensive in terms of organisation, tasks and command,” he said on September 11.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea and has sought to bolster its case by building a series of artificial islands capable of supporting military facilities.
But a UN-backed tribunal ruled in July that any extensive claims to the sea had no legal basis and that China’s construction of artificial islands in disputed waters was illegal.
Beijing reacted furiously, with foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang threatening a “decisive response” if anyone took “any provocative action against China’s security interests based on the award”.
Beijing’s land reclamations have prompted criticism from other claimant countries, and the United States has regularly sent warships into the strategically vital area to assert the right to freedom of navigation. This week’s drills will be carried out off the coast of Zhanjiang city in the southern province of Guangdong. –