01:36 GMT +321 July 2019
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    A destroyer of the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese Navy fires a missile during a training exercise.

    China Launches Large-Scale Military Drills in Disputed Regions

    © AP Photo / Zha Chunming
    Asia & Pacific
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    Amidst territorial disputes between Beijing and Tokyo, the Chinese military has conducted live-fire air and sea drills in the East China Sea on Thursday.

    Without stating the precise coordinates, state news agency Xinhua reports that the drills involved over 100 ships and dozens of aircraft. Nearly 100 missiles were fired, and the exercises also utilized information warfare units.

    The Japanese and Chinese governments are currently disputing ownership of a series of small islands in the region.

    The exercises also come amidst a push by the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to expand his country’s military role abroad. Nationwide protests have erupted in Japan against a series of legislative proposals aimed at reversing the nation’s longstanding pacifist constitution.

    These policy changes come partially in response to pressure from the United States, which has pushed Japan to play a stronger role in countering what it sees as Chinese aggression.

    China is also currently conducting joint military exercises with Russia in the Sea of Japan, a move seen as a major sign of renewed cooperation between the two countries.

    Xinhua reports that Beijing will also hold a trilateral military exercise on Thursday with Australia and the United States. These will focus on field survival training, such as how to build shelter and start fires in the jungle.

    Beijing will also hold drills in the South China Sea, where its construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago has led to complaints from rival claimants. A highly disputed region, nearly $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea annually. While the Chinese government claims most of the sea, there are overlapping claims by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

    Beijing has repeatedly stated that it has every right to build within its own territory, and that the islands will be used largely for humanitarian purposes.

    The South China Sea drills will be conducted in cooperation with Malaysia in September. Codenamed "Peace and Friendship 2015," the exercises will include search and rescue operations with 1,160 Chinese participants.

    The Malaysian exercises will utilize two Chinese destroyer-frigates, four transportation aircraft, and three shipboard helicopters, according to Xinhua.


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