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China kicks of first military drill in South China Sea

Chinese state-run media denies link with US military activity in hot waters of disputed sea

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China on Wednesday kicked off fresh military exercises in the disputed South China Sea. This is the first military drills by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ever since the new US administration was inaugurated under Joe Biden.

The exercises also come after the US sent its aircraft carrier into the highly contested maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea. However, Chinese-state run media denied the claims over China’s link with the US military activity, calling it a “regular move.”

The PLA will hold military exercises in the waters to the west of the Leizhou Peninsula in the South China Sea from Wednesday until coming Saturday.

Read more: China’s military must be prepared to “act at any second”: President Xi

China’s Maritime Safety Administration has banned entry into the region.

Chinese daily Global Times reported that at least four military exercises had been held in the same waters in past three months. It added that the US aircraft carrier is more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away from the PLA exercises area.

The US sent its Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier into the South China Sea last Saturday.

Also, Taiwan, which China claims its “breakaway province”, has complained of increased air engagement in the region.

The US military’s Indo-Pacific Command in a statement had said the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) entered the South China Sea on Jan. 23 to “conduct routine operations.”

“The TRCSG is on a scheduled deployment to the US 7th Fleet to ensure freedom of the seas, build partnerships that foster maritime security, and conduct a wide range of operations,” the statement added.

Read more: China-Pakistan ‘Shaheen-IX’ exercise not targeting any third country: Chinese foreign ministry

An unnamed Chinese military expert told the daily: “It could take a while to see the policies of the new US administration reflected in military operations.”

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk

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