China’s military exercises have closed part of the South China Sea as it asserts control over the disputed waters following an international tribunal struck down its claims over the region. A military spokesperson said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force will also conduct regular combat air patrols as a regular practice in the future.
China sent H-6K long range strategic bombers and other aircraft including fighters, scouts and tankers to patrol islands and reefs including Huangyan Dao, according to Shen Jinke, spokesman for the PLA Air Force. The aircraft carried out several tasks during its mission to fulfill the patrols objective around the island, Shen said. The Air Force times to promote real training exercises to improve its security over China’s sovereignty and security, he added.
China believes that the South China Sea islands have been the country’s territory since ancient times, and believe it has the rights and interests in relevant maritime areas.
The country’s maritime administration, which overseas China’s agenda and claims over the South China Sea, said it is closing off a part of the sea for military exercises. This comes after the tribunal awarded the islands to the Philippines.
Beijing has angrily rejected the tribunal’s verdict and said the award would not impact its claims over 90 percent of the sea. Besides the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also firmly contest China’s claims in the region.
The United States has made its position clear by backing the smaller states in the area as Beijing continues to establish full control in the sea. China is being asked to implement the verdict and settle the dispute peacefully with its neighbors.
US Navy’s top admiral, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, arrived in Beijing to discuss the South China Sea dispute. Richardson met the head of the Chinese navy, Admiral Wu Shengli and held talks with him.
The PLA Navy drill follows a military exercise conducted by the PLA Air Force over the South China Sea. Beijing said it will extend a military drill of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that involves all five newly designated commands. It is the most elaborate drill in recent times that will go on till September.