China kicks off military drills amid SCS tensions

Beijing: Amid the South China Sea tensions, Chinese military kicked off large scale military exercises pressing troops from the five theatre commands of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) simulating real battle conditions. The military drills will last will last until September and aimed to boost the military’s “trans-regional” capabilities, state run Xinhua news agency reported.

A Xinhua report on July 14 said that the exercises will be held at Zhurihe training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Seen as one of the key man oeuvres after the establishment of the PLA’s new command structure, the event will see mixed army brigades sent from each theatre command separately confront a PLA troop posing as the enemy.

While the selection of brigades taking part in the drill would have been based on recommendations in the past, they were randomly selected this time, giving more troops chance to participate, chief director Wang Zhian said.

Wang said commanders’ efficiency will be a greater part of evaluation of this drill, and the opposing sides will switch roles of attack and defence instead of each playing a single role throughout.

The drill will be tougher than previous versions, involving more nighttime man oeuvres and harsher requirements for live-fire assaults.

The schedule was pushed to July from the usual May to give troops more time for preparatory training. The drills were being held in the back drop of verdict of the tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration which has struck down China’s historic claims over the South China Sea.

China has boycotted the proceedings of the tribunal and rejected the verdict and refused to implement it.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday said the South China Sea arbitration ruling will have no impact on Beijing’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

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