Wed, Jul 11, 2012 - Page 6 News List

China launches naval war games off Shanghai coast

AFP and AP, BEIJING and CANBERRA

China’s navy yesterday began annual military exercises off its east coast, state media reported, amid tensions over maritime territorial disputes with its neighbors.

“According to our annual plan for exercises, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s navy will in the coming days hold exercise activities in the waters near the Zhoushan islands,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The ministry provided no other details on the war games.

However, the China Daily said the live fire naval exercises would start yesterday and last for six days.

The Zhoushan islands lie in the East China Sea not far from Shanghai. The China Daily said the exercises would not be held in any waters also claimed by another country.

Last week, the ministry announced a ban on shipping and fishing vessels entering the designated exercise area, the paper said.

The exercises come after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Saturday that Japan was considering buying a chain of islands at the center of its bitter territorial dispute with China and Taiwan.

Those islands in the East China Sea are called the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.

China is locked in similarly tense disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea.

In other developments, a senior Chinese official has called for closer defense and economic ties with Australia while warning against a Cold War mentality in the US.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai (崔天凱) made a veiled criticism of Australia’s deepening military ties with the US yesterday after attending annual talks on human rights in Canberra.

Cui told reporters that China and Australia should guard against a resurgence of a Cold War mentality.

Beijing has condemned as a throwback to “Cold War thinking” a plan announced by President Barack Obama in November last year to send US military aircraft and up to 2,500 Marines to Darwin to create a training hub to help allies and protect US interests across Asia.

Meanwhile, the EU and China said they will begin to hold regular talks on defense and security and are looking at boosting their cooperation on anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia.

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