Chinese Navy conducts confrontational exercises in South China Sea

Chinese Navy conducts ‘confrontational exercises’ in South China Sea

Exercises took place as the US aircraft carrier group Nimitz also conducted “maritime strike training” in the contested waterway.

The Chinese Navy has conducted a series of “confrontational exercises” in the South China Sea, state media reported, after a United States aircraft carrier group began operations in the contested waterway.

The Chinese Navy’s Shandong Aircraft Carrier Group conducted “realistic combat-oriented confrontation exercises” in the South China Sea, the Communist Party-owned news website Global Times reported on Sunday, citing a statement by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

During the drills, which simulated enemy aircraft attacks, J-15 fighter jets took off from the Shandong and conducted intercept drills, the PLA’s statement said on Saturday, according to the Global Times.

The carrier group also practiced attack and defense on the surface, in the air and underwater, she added.

The report came after the US Navy said on Friday that its Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group was conducting drills in the South China Sea as part of its “routine operations in the Indo-Pacific”.

Beijing claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea and has established military outposts on artificial islands it built there.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines are also entitled to the resource-rich waters.

Washington has called Beijing’s claims to the waterway “unlawful” and regularly sends warships through the area to conduct “freedom of navigation” drills.

In a statement Friday, the US Navy said the Nimitz carrier strike group — consisting of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a guided-missile cruiser and three guided-missile destroyers — has been conducting “naval attack training” as well as “anti-submarine operations” in the South China Sea.

The carrier strike group also conducted “integrated cross-domain and joint training between ground and air elements, as well as fixed-wing and rotary-wing flight operations,” the Navy said.

Meanwhile, a US defense official told CNN that two Chinese ships had shadowed the Nimitz aircraft carrier group.

Chinese defense experts quoted by the Global Times said the US aircraft carrier’s activities in the South China Sea “have limited military significance and only fuel tensions in the region.”

The Chinese military will “monitor potentially provocative moves on China’s doorstep, and foreign forces will serve as training partners, contributing to the PLA’s combat readiness,” the tabloid quoted analysts as saying.

In December, the US military said a Chinese J-11 fighter jet had intercepted one of its surveillance planes over the South China Sea, flying within six meters (20 feet) of the RC-135 plane and flying an “unsafe “ performed maneuvers. The Chinese Defense Ministry dismissed the US allegations as “slander” and “hype” and said it was the American pilot who engaged in “dangerous” flights.

And in November, the Chinese Navy said it had driven away a US Navy ship that “illegally entered waters near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.”

The meeting came days after US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines and called for freedom of navigation and flyover in the South China Sea and promised to launch an international campaign against “irresponsible conduct” in the disputed waterway.