China’s Defense Ministry called the drills “routine” and not directed against any third party. The drills, however, come at a time of increased tensions in East Asia after an international arbitration tribunal last month rejected Chinese territorial claims to the South China Sea. Beijing rejected the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague calling the ruling “waste paper.”
Despite the court ruling, China continues to claim most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in annual trade passes. Furthermore, China has repeatedly warned against US intervention in the region, which continues to show its force through the freedom of navigation principle.
“The People’s Liberation Army is ready,” one source with ties to the military told Reuters. “We should go in and give them a bloody nose like Deng Xiaoping did to Vietnam in 1979.”
Last week, Beijing also announced that it would hold a “routine” naval exercises in the South China Sea in September with Russia.
“This is a routine exercise between the two armed forces, aimed at strengthening the developing China-Russia strategic cooperative partnership,” China’s defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters. “The exercise is not directed against third parties.”