CHINA’s navy has sent its aircraft carrier and more than 40 warships into the South China Sea for its largest live-fire military exercise in the troubled region yet.
And it comes as the United States has three aircraft carrier battle groups converging on the contested waterway for its own exercises.
Chinese state media says the exercises are centred on the aircraft carrier Liaoning, with warships combining from the North, East and South Sea fleets in an overt display of military muscle.
It’s a similar story for the United States Navy.
Both sets of military manouvers are being held as an Asian economic forum gets underway on the Chinese island of Hainan, which borders the disputed South China Sea.
“China wants to show the outside world its determination to defend the fruits of its economic reforms over the past 40 years,” Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming told the South China Morning Post.
“Like the US, China’s military might is one of the government’s political tools to protect the country’s national interests.”
Almost 90 per cent of the South China Sea has been declared sovereign territory by Beijing under its arbitrary “Nine Dash Line” which extends some 2000km from its mainland. This is despite an international court of arbitration rejecting its ambitious claims in 2016. Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are among the nations asserting territorial claims over the sea based on UN conventions.
The convergence also comes as tensions rise between Beijing and Washington over a looming trade tariff “war”. read more…