18:33 GMT16 May 2021
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    China has intensified military drills over the past few days in the disputed South China Sea as part of its routine exercises, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry.

    China’s navy has in recent days organized a fleet to go to the waters in the South China Sea to carry out exercises.

    “This action is a routine arrangement made in accordance with this year's naval training plan,” the ministry statement said, without specifying the exact location of the drills, Press TV reported.

    Pictures emerged recently online showing Chinese navy ships carrying out live-fire exercises in the region.

    China has been constructing artificial bases on the Spratly Islands over the past year. The archipelago encompasses over 750 islands and reefs. Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the Spratlys and a 12-nautical-mile zone surrounding the islands.

    The United States has repeatedly warned it does not recognize China’s claims of sovereignty over the islands, and raised concerns over Beijing’s activities in the region.

    Recently, US B-52 bombers have flown near some of these islands. A US guided-missile destroyer also sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s islands in October.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry on a number of occasions has warned US not to aggravate territorial disputes in the South China Sea and stick to its commitment to maintain neutrality with respect to efforts of other countries that are trying to maintain peace and stability.


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    Spratly islands, military drills, Chinese Navy, South China Sea, China
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