April 11 (UPI) — China is conducting a new round of naval exercises near the island province of Hainan as a U.S. aircraft carrier sailed through the South China Sea.
The exercises began immediately after the Boao Forum for Asia on Wednesday and are expected to continue for three days off the southern coast of Hainan, state tabloid Global Times reported.
The report stated China’s maritime authorities confirmed the waters surrounding the southern coast of Hainan had been designated a no-travel zone, and access to the waters had been restricted ahead of the drills.
Near the site of the drill is Sanya, a port city in Hainan that can accommodate up to two aircraft carriers, according to Chinese state media.
The first round of exercises at sea were previously conducted from last Thursday to Wednesday.
An analysis of satellite imagery shows China deployed 43 naval vessels, including aircraft carrier Liaoning, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
China’s air force also sent advanced fighters and bombers for joint combat patrols, according to Australia’s Nine News.
Hong Kong news service Ming Pao Daily reported Chinese President Xi Jinping had mentioned the deployment of the Liaoning during the Boao Forum.
Xi reportedly suggested China will not be pushed out by the United States on the issue of Chinese sovereignty over the South China Sea.
China has claimed as much as 90 percent of the international waters as its own within what it calls the “nine-dash line” that extends more than 1,200 miles from the Chinese mainland.
Beijing may have been monitoring U.S. movements in the South China Sea as the U.S. Navy’s Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group traveled through regional waters.
The strike group, which includes a nuclear-powered carrier and 65 supersonic F-18 jets, spy planes and helicopters, headed for Manila on Tuesday, Australia’s Nine News reported.
The U.S. Navy was welcome by the Philippine army, according to the report.
“The Americans are our friends. In one way or another, they can help us to deter any threat,” said Philippine army Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista.
U.S. Rear Adm. Steve Koehler defended the U.S. deployment and said he had not seen any dangerous interaction with the Chinese.