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China stages live-fire drills in South China Sea

China stages live-fire drills in South China Sea

China's military is holding live-fire war games in the South China Sea amid heightened tensions over Chinese territorial claims in the region.
The drills focus on a simulated beach assault featuring landing craft, amphibious tanks, and fast attack craft, state media said Wednesday.
Mine sweepers and submarine chasers were operating offshore, while attack helicopters were backing up the beach landing, the reports said. A total of 1,800 military personnel were taking part in the drills, which began Tuesday.
The exercises were being held along the coast of Hainan, the island province that sits at the northwestern corner of the South China Sea across the Gulf of Tonkin from Vietnam.
Beijing says the entire sea and its island groups are China's sovereign territory but Vietnam and several other nations also control islands and claim territory in the area.
Disputes have occasionally flared into armed conflict, including a clash between Chinese and Vietnamese forces in the Spratly island group in 1988 in which several Vietnamese boats were sunk and more than 70 sailors killed.
Recent years have seen greater restraint, although tensions have risen again in recent months over stronger Chinese assertions of its sovereignty claims and the seizure of Vietnamese fishing vessels by Chinese ships.
Beijing, meanwhile, has grown increasingly concerned about moves by other claimants to draw closer to the United States and was enraged by moves by the U.S. to involve itself in brokering territorial disputes.
State media said the exercises, dubbed "Jiaolong" in homage to a mythical dragon, are held annually toward the end of the year, but that organizers had this time decided to invite as observers about 200 students from more than 40 countries currently studying at China's National Defense University and the naval and air force command schools.


Updated : 2021-05-12 01:33 GMT+08:00