China says its carrier group conducts illegal exercise in South China Sea

China’s Shandong aircraft carrier task group recently conducted an illegal exercise in the South China Sea, the country's People's Liberation Army (PLA) said.
May 03, 2021 | 12:59
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China says its carrier group conducts illegal exercise in South China Sea
The Shandong is China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier. (Photo: CCTV)

Gao Xiucheng, a spokesman for the Chinese navy, said “In the future, the Chinese navy will continue to organize similar exercises," South China Morning Post quoted.

China’s second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, is conducting a series of exercises in the South China Sea in its first known voyage of the year, almost immediately after the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, left the region, and Chinese analysts said on Sunday that the move highlighted the fact that the two aircraft carriers that China currently operates are actively training for combat preparedness, according to Global Times.

The exercise was the Shandong’s first drill in the disputed South China Sea this year. The exercise came weeks after the US and the Philippines voiced concerns about the presence of more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels near a disputed reef in the South China Sea. Manila said some of the ships were part of a maritime militia but China insisted they were fishing vessels “sheltering from the wind.”

China has been enhancing its military capabilities in recent years and last month commissioned three advanced new ships: a Type 09IV ballistic missile submarine, a Type 055 stealth destroyer and its first Type 075 amphibious assault ship.

China says its carrier group conducts illegal exercise in South China Sea
Aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya. (Photo: China Military)

Tensions have risen in the South China Sea in recent years as Beijing, which claims most of the waters for itself, has sought to cement its claims, which are contested by several of its neighbors, by constructing artificial islands and building up its military infrastructure. The area has also become a major theatre for its rivalry with the United States, which has stepped up its reconnaissance activities in the waters this year.

The European Union published a statement on April 24, which states: "Tensions in the South China Sea, including the recent presence of large Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef, endanger peace and stability in the region. The EU is committed to secure, free, and open maritime supply routes in the Indo-Pacific, in full compliance with international law, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in the interest of all."

Japan's diplomatic bluebook, which was released April 27, mentions China 273 times, says that China's military build-up and activities in the East China Sea and the South China Sea "have become a serious security concern," while criticizing China's Coast Guard Law.

Vietnam has repeatedly raised the voice about China's aggressive movements on the South China Sea. The spokesperson of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Le Thi Thu Hang said countries are obliged to comply with international laws and international treaties to which they are a signatory, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), according to VN Express.

Vietnam has sufficient historical and legal evidence to prove its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in line with international law, national sovereignty, sovereignty rights, and jurisdiction over the waters in accordance with the 1982 UNCLOS, and it will resolutely and persistently take measures in line with international law to protect those legal and legitimate rights, Hang said in a recent press conference.

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Valerie Mai

Insider

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