“Holding sea drills is a common practice for navies with various countries —Liang Yang Defence spokesperson
Beijing : China said its ongoing naval drills in the disputed South China Sea are part of annual exercises and asked the international community to avoid “excessive interpretations”.
“Holding sea drills is a common practice for navies with various countries. The annual, regular drill by the Chinese navy aims to test the troops’ real combat abilities, boost their manoeuvrability, search and rescue power and the abilities to fulfil diversified military missions,” defence spokesperson Liang Yang said.
He said such a drill is in line with international laws and practices, and the navy will continue to hold similar drills in the future.
“The Nansha Islands and nearby sea areas have been a part of China’s territories since ancient times, but some neighbouring countries have long been illegally occupying some of the islands, building facilities there such as airports and even deploying heavy offensive weapons,” Liang said, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China’s claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea are strongly contested by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Referring to US military forays into the region, Liang also said that “some powerful countries outside the region” lured other countries into the South China Sea issue, deployed vessels and aircraft on reconnaissance missions and held various exercises with China as the imaginary enemy. He described such activities as “posing severe threats to our country’s territory and sovereignty, security and maritime interests while harming regional security, stability and the navigation freedom in the South China Sea”.
The Chinese navy will always stay on high alert and be fully prepared to boost its ability to complete missions, firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and ensure regional peace and stability, Liang added.
K J M Varma
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