China to hold drills in disputed waters ahead of court ruling

By Reuters/Ben Blanchard   July 3, 2016 | 11:14 am GMT+7
China to hold drills in disputed waters ahead of court ruling
China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) attends the 9th meeting of the steering committee of the Vietnam - China bilateral cooperation at the International Convention Center in Hanoi, Vietnam June 27, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Kham

China will hold military drills around the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea (Vietnam's East Sea), the maritime safety administration said on Sunday, ahead of a decision by an international court in a dispute between China and the Philippines.

China routinely carries out exercises in the South China Sea (Vietnam's East Sea), where its territorial claims overlap in parts with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Tensions have been rising ahead of a July 12 ruling by an arbitration court hearing the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea (Vietnam's East Sea) in the Dutch city of The Hague.

In a brief online statement, China's maritime safety administration said the drills would take place from July 5-11, and gave coordinates for the drills that cover an area from the east of China's Hainan island down to and including the Paracels.

Other ships are prohibited from entering those waters during that time, it said, without further elaboration.

The Paracels are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

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

China says it is perfectly within its rights to do what it wants on the islands in the South China Sea (Vietnam's East Sea), saying they have been Chinese territory since ancient times.

About $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year though the energy-rich, strategic waters of the South China Sea (Vietnam's East Sea)

Related news:

> Hague arbitration court to rule in the nine-dash line case on July 12

> Top Chinese envoy in Vietnam as tension looms before court ruling

 
 
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