China, Rus­sia hold mil­i­tary drills at sea

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

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