Amid tensions with Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has conducted more than 100 drills in major “Chinese seas” in the past three months, according to the state-controlled media.
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The revelation comes at a time when the US military is conducting month-long war games in the Indo-Pacific region with its allies such as India and Japan.
Chinese military experts said that the PLA has set up a “strategic defense perimeter” and is now fully prepared to face simultaneous battles in multiple directions.
Along with this, China’s Maritime Safety Administration on August 23 announced three separate navigation restriction zones in the South China Sea, the northern Yellow Sea, and the Bohai Strait for live-fire military exercises in the coming few days.
Earlier, China held at least 120 military exercises in the said maritime regions.
“In the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea, the PLA hosted at least 48 drills since late May, making the area the most exercise-intensive among others, probably because the two seas are home to some of the PLA’s maritime weapon test sites and gateways to the country’s capital Beijing”, observers told the Global Times.
Apart from these, the Taiwanese armed forces also reported 39 PLA drills that were held near the island in the past three months. According to analysts, these drills have become common since last year as they show the PLA’s preparedness to deter the Taiwan secessionists and foreign forces.
Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory and insists on unifying the island with mainland China.
They also said that the real number of such exercises might be higher than what has been reported by Taiwan’s defense authorities.
According to reports, the South China Sea hosted at least 26 PLA exercises in these three months, the highlight being the large-scale exercise held in early August whose exclusion area was larger than that of the island of Hainan.
The disputed South China Sea also witnessed foreign military presence, which included the frequent US close-in reconnaissance exercises, US warship’s transit into China’s territorial waters and aircraft carrier voyages of both US as well as the UK, according to the monitoring of the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, a Beijing-based think tank.
PLA conducted at least seven exercises in the East China Sea, situated north of Taiwan and home to the Diaoyu Islands, which is claimed by both China and Japan as part of their territory.
The PLA exercises showcased a variety of warships and warplanes, some of which are of the most advanced types. “By holding exercises in all major Chinese sea areas, the PLA is preparing to face simultaneous combat from different directions should a military conflict break out”, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator said.
“This also means that the PLA has established a strategic maritime defense perimeter off the coastlines so that hostile forces must think twice before taking any action”, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert was quoted as saying by Global Times.
— Written by Kashish Tandon/EurAsian Times Desk