China Conducts Military Exercises in Four Different Seas

Sailors stand on the deck of the new type 055 guide missile destroyer Nanchang of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy as it participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China's PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao, in eastern China's Shandong …
MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/AFP via Getty Images

China launched military drills in four separate seas on Monday — Two are being held in the South China Sea near the disputed Paracel Islands, one in the East China Sea, and one in the northern Bohai Sea, while live-fire drills are scheduled in the southern Yellow Sea.

Reuters noted it is unusual for China to hold multiple military exercises at the same time, but this week marks the second time in two months it has done so:

Last month, China announced four separate exercises, from the Bohai Sea to the East and Yellow Seas and down to the disputed South China Sea, in what Chinese military experts said was a rare arrangement of drills.

The United States sent spy planes into a no-fly zone over Chinese live-fire military drills last month. In response, China lodged “stern representations” with the United States.

[…] China has also held frequent military activities near Chinese-claimed Taiwan and has taken the usual step of declaring that such drills are directed at Taiwan.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that this week will include the third Chinese military exercise near the Paracels in 2020. The U.S. and Vietnam strongly objected to the previous two exercises held in June and July. 

The U.S. State Department said the latest exercises represented China breaking its promise five years ago not to “pursue militarization” of the South China Sea. Instead, the State Department described China’s heavily-armed, artificially-enhanced islands in the region and “platforms of coercion to assert control over waters to which Beijing has no lawful maritime claim.”

Hong Kong-based military analyst Song Zhongping told the SCMP that China is eager to demonstrate it can fight on several fronts in a “full-scale military confrontation that could potentially simultaneously start in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea.”

Australia’s ABS/CBN News reported that while China is holding these simultaneous naval exercises, state-run China Central Television is “airing footage of the People’s Liberation Army performing urban warfare drills” in a province along the Strait of Taiwan.

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