China starts landmark military drills near Korea…with more planned – US on alert

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Last week, the Chinese Navy became the largest in the world and will hold exercises off the northeastern coast of the mainland. The first set of exercises took place today near to the port of Qinhuangdao. A further military manoeuvre will also take place later this week in the Yellow Sea close to the Korean peninsula in the latest show of force in the region.

According to the state’s Maritime Safety Administration, no other ships are permitted to enter the region during the exercises.

The East and South China Seas have become a hotbed of activity as China attempts to maintain its influence in the crucial waters.

Although tensions remain on a knife-edge in the South China Sea, Beijing launched a landmark show of force in the seas last week.

Two of its new aircraft carriers, the Shandong and the Liaoning were also sent to the waters to conduct conflict drills.

This alleged show of force marks the first time the two ships were seen in the region together.

China’s Navy has not yet confirmed the presence of the two ships although Beijing’s Modern Ships magazine, stated satellite images showed their presence in the waters.

The US has constantly expressed concern over China’s increasing military arsenal in the South China Sea.

Such is the size and capability of the People’s Liberation Navy, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo warned of Beijing’s “naval empire”.

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With the US countering China’s presence with its own naval ships, the ruling Chinese Communist Party stated Washington is risking conflict in the region.

In the state-run Global Times, which acts as the mouthpiece of the ruling government, an editorial accused the US of trying to spark conflict.

It read: “The US has deliberately stirred up the situation by advancing its Indo-Pacific Strategy and introducing a new policy concerning the South China Sea to deter China, destabilize the region and force ASEAN countries to choose sides between China and the US, which goes against the will of regional countries to maintain peace and stability.

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July said China’s maritime claims over the South China Sea were ‘completely unlawful’.

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“In the first half of this year alone, US military aircraft flew than 2,000 missions in the region.”

In a sign of China’s growing naval might in the region, a US Defense report to Congress declared Beijing’s force now dwarves America’s own fleet.

It stated China’s fleet now stands at having 350 ships and submarines.

America, in contrast, has 293 ships according to figures as of early this year.

Amid China’s newfound aggressive stance in the region, Mr Pompeo declared the ruling Communist Party is beginning to see the world unite against the state.

He told Fox News last week: “I think you’re seeing the entire world begin to unite around the central understanding that the Chinese Communist Party simply is going to refuse to compete in a fair, reciprocal and transparent way.

“So, whether it’s our friends in India, our friends in Australia, friends in Japan or South Korea, I think they have all come to see the risk to their own people, to their own countries, and you’ll see them partner with the US to push back on every front.”

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