The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will set up a navigation restriction zone in the South China Sea to conduct military exercises between Friday and Tuesday, according to reports from a Beijing-based paper aligned to the Chinese Communist Party. The exclusion zone is believed to stretch from the waters around Hainan Island to the Xisha Islands.
It is believed both Rocket Force and anti-ship ballistic missiles could be deployed in this year’s exercise.
Song Zhongping said: “These exercises have already become routine near Chinese waters, with the aim of honing the PLA’s capabilities to fight and win wars under realistic combat scenarios.”
“China holding military exercises is like readying a hunting rifle and striking back at the wolves,” he reportedly added.
China carried out similar drills last year when the PLA was even said to have deployed their “aircraft carrier killer” anti-ship ballistic missiles.
American news outlets suggested Beijing launched four medium-range ballistic missiles into the South China sea during their August 2020 drills.
However, a spokesperson from Beijjing’s Defense Ministry claimed these were routine exercises and that no country was targeted.
The American military paper Stars and Stripes claimed Washington would conduct its largest military training drills in almost 40 years as tensions with Moscow and Beijing continue to rise.
US vessels will spread across 17 different time zones while their sailors and marines carry out the exercise.
The American drills are expected to continue until August 16.
The US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has called on China to cease its “provocative” behaviour in the region and expressed “serious concerns about ongoing human rights abuses in Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang”.
His department added: “The Secretary also noted deep concern with the rapid growth of the PRC’S nuclear arsenal which highlights how Beijing has sharply deviated from its decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence.”
A £3billion UK aircraft carrier has joined other nations' vessels in the South China Sea this week.
On Monday, HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed through the area to carry out freedom of navigation patrols alongside personnel from both America and Japan.
India, who have previously been engaged in skirmishes with the PLA on their shared land border, are reported to be sending four warships into the South China Sea during the next two months.
Source: The Express