The Chinese navy has fired live missiles during its ongoing military exercises in the South China Sea as the region waits for a historic ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration over Beijing’s maritime claims.
Earlier today state broadcaster CCTV showed images of jet fighters, navy ships firing missiles, helicopters taking off and submarines surfacing as China looks to showcase its military strength.
The South China Morning Post claims that it is the largest live-fire drill ever held in the South China Sea. The PLA Daily said that “the drill focused on air control operations, sea battles and anti-submarine warfare.”
“The PLA has always said its drills do not target a third party. But warships from the South Sea Fleet are playing key roles in the drills, and commanders on-site are all top leaders in the army, hinting that the US Navy was the imagined target,” said Antony Wong Dong, a Macau-based military observer.
China claims nearly all the South China Sea, but its claims overlap in part with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The upcoming ruling, due to be delivered on July 12, will settle a case brought by the Philippines disputing several of China’s claims in the region.
China has repeatedly said that it will not consider any ruling by the arbitration court to be legally binding.
“China adheres to the position of settling disputes through negotiation and consultation with states directly concerned,” read a Xinhua editorial published on Saturday. “This has always been China’s policy, and it will never change.”
[Images via CCTV]