The Chinese navy has carried out a series of confrontational drills in the South China Sea at the same time as a United States aircraft carrier group launched maritime strike training in the contested waterway.
The Chinese navy’s Shandong aircraft carrier group conducted “realistic combat-oriented confrontational exercises” in the South China Sea, the Global Times news website reported on Sunday, citing a statement from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
During the drills, which simulated hostile aircraft attacks, J-15 fighter jets took off from Shandong and carried out interception training, the Global Times said. The carrier group also practised attack and defence on the surface, in the air and underwater, it added.
The report came as the US navy said its Nimitz carrier strike group was also carrying out exercises in the South China Sea as part of its “routine operations in the Indo-Pacific”.
In a statement on Friday, the US navy said the Nimitz carrier strike group — comprised of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a guided-missile cruiser and three guided-missile destroyers — conducted “maritime strike training” as well as “anti-submarine operations” in the South China Sea.
The carrier strike group also carried out “integrated multi-domain and joint training between surface and air elements, and flight operations with fixed and rotary wing aircraft”, the navy said.
Chinese defence experts cited by Global Times said the US aircraft carrier’s activities in the South China Sea “have limited military significance and will only stir up tension in the region”.
The Chinese military will monitor “potentially provocative moves on China’s doorstep and the foreign forces would serve as practice partners that contribute to the PLA’s combat readiness,” the tabloid cited analysts as saying.