Japan’s Maritime Self-defense Force on Friday conducted anti-submarine drills in the South China Sea, while China dispatched ships and planes to track a US Navy destroyer near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島).
The Japanese Ministry of Defense said that three vessels, including a helicopter carrier and a submarine, were deployed to the South China Sea for the drill.
The purpose of the exercise was “to boost their tactical capability,” the ministry said in a statement, without giving more details.
The three vessels would stop at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, over the weekend to replenish supplies, the statement said.
Although Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam claim parts of the South China Sea, nearly all of it is claimed by China, which has established military bases on artificial islands in the area.
China’s Global Times, noting the latest Japanese drills, yesterday said that the frequent conducting of military activities in the South China Sea is not conducive to the security and stability of the area, and is firmly opposed by Beijing.
The Global Times reported that Japanese warships had carried out activities in the South China Sea, with a helicopter carrier spotted on satellite on Monday last week.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) accused the USS John S. McCain of trespassing into Chinese territorial waters when the US Navy warship passed by the Paracel Islands on Friday during its latest freedom of navigation missions, aimed at defying China’s vast claims in the strategic waterway.
Beijing demands that the US end such actions, PLA Southern Theater Command spokesperson Colonel Zhang Nandong (張南東) said, calling them “blatant navigation hegemony and military provocation” that “seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security interests, and gravely jeopardized peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
“We urge the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative actions, strictly manage and control its maritime and air military operations so as not to cause any eventuality,” Zhang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
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