The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) recently conducted combat-oriented drills in three major sea areas. The timing of this exercise assumes significance as it was held around the same time when the heads of government of the US-led QUAD bloc held their first-ever summit.
The combat drills were held in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and the disputed South China Sea. The PLA’s Northern, Eastern, and Southern Theatre Commands took part in the exercises, Chinese state media has reported.
According to the reports, the exercises conducted in the Yellow Sea involved Type-056 and Type-056A corvettes Wuhai, Datong, and Yingkou, which formed a flotilla and practiced training courses including main gun shooting, secondary gun shooting, and air defense by launching flares.
In the East China Sea, Type 052C destroyer Jinan and Type 054A frigate Changzhou ran more than 10 training missions including free combat among warships, submarines and warplanes, and joint fire strikes. In the South China Sea, different types of tug and support ships held maritime search and rescue and emergency towing exercises, according to the China Central Television (CCTV) report.
Apart from these drills, the PLA Southern Theatre Command also conducted another exercise in the Beibu Bay, west of the Leizhou Peninsula in the South China Sea.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or QUAD comprising the US, Japan, Australia, and India, is an informal alliance to counter China’s rising aggression in the Asia-Pacific region.
The essence of this new ‘credible deterrence’ against China was reflected in the Indian PM’s opening speech at the QUAD summit. “We (the QUAD members) are united by our democratic values and our commitment to a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” Modi said.
The Chinese state-run Global Times reported that the latest exercises were aimed against the American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Asia to boost military cooperation with allies such as Japan, South Korea, and India.
The US has been pushing for a NATO-like alliance in the Asia-Pacific in the wake of the 10-month-long border standoff between the Indian and the PLA troops at their Himalayan borders and China-Taiwan tensions.
Last year, the QUAD members had conducted a major naval exercise named ‘Malabar-2020’, which involved warships of the four countries including aircraft carriers from India and the United States.