China’s Shandong aircraft carrier group has recently conducted routine annual exercises in the South China Sea, the People’s Liberation Army said on Sunday.
The Defence Ministry of China last week urged the United States to control its front-line forces in the air and sea in the Chinese vicinity. US reconnaissance aircraft and warships have become more active around China since President Biden took office, it said.
The South China Sea is a particularly contentious waterbody because smaller neighbours of China too have competing claims to one of the world’s busiest sea lanes, which Beijing claims virtually in its entirety. China has constructed several artificial islands in the disputed waters in what the US says is a move to militarise the area.
Navy spokesperson Gao Xiucheng said in a statement that the exercises were completely legitimate and part of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as maintaining regional peace, and stability. “We hope the outside world will view it in an objective and rational way. In the future, the Chinese navy will continue to hold similar exercises as planned,” he said.