China to carry out more military drills in flashpoint waters

By Reuters/Ben Blanchard   October 26, 2016 | 06:04 pm PT
China to carry out more military drills in flashpoint waters
Photo by Reuters/Stringer
It ordered all other ships to stay away.

China will carry out military drills all day on Thursday in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, said Chinese maritime safety administration on Wednesday, ordering all other shipping to stay away.

China routinely holds drills in the disputed waterway, and the latest exercises come less than a week after a U.S. navy destroyer sailed near the Paracel Islands, prompting a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area.

The maritime administration gave coordinates for an area south of the Chinese island province of Hainan and northwest of the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, but controlled by China.

The brief statement gave no other details, apart from prohibiting other ships from entering the area.

China's Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China has a runway on Woody Island, its largest presence on the Paracels, and has placed surface-to-air missiles there, according to U.S. officials.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have rival claims in the South China Sea, but Beijing's is the largest. It argues it can do what it wants on the islands it claims as they have been Chinese since ancient times.

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