South China Sea: China Announces New Military Drills, Regular Combat Air Patrols
Following the ruling of the Arbitration court at The Hague against China, as well as the U.S. stance to support the rule of law, China has said that it shall be conducting a series of military exercises in the South China Sea. At the same time, it announced that it will make regular combat air patrols over the islands of the disputed waters.Advertisement
The announcement comes as U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson landed in China to meet with People’s Liberation Army (Navy) (PLA(N)) Commander Adm. Wu Shengli. The U.S. has long been opposed to aggressive actions by the Chinese in the South China Sea. China has always raised its objections with regards to freedom of navigation exercises the U.S. is conducting in the area.
Upon meeting with Shengli, Richardson said that his goal is to “forge a relationship built on frankness and cooperation.” As Richardson continues his visit, China’s Maritime Safety Administration shall be conducting a series of military activities from Tuesday to Thursday in the South China Sea, according to a navigation alert issued on Monday. Entry of any other vessels into the area will reportedly be prohibited.
China said that combat air patrols in the South China Sea will become a “regular” activity for the PLA. These patrols include aerial scouting, island and reef patrol, and air combat. Shen Jinke, the spokesman for China’s PLA Air Force, said, “The PLA Air Force will firmly defend national sovereignty, security and maritime interests, safeguard regional peace and stability, and cope with various threats and challenges.”