The Chinese Navy will hold six-day military drills in the South China Sea from Wednesday, allegedly in response to planned U.S.-South Korean exercises in the Yellow Sea, local media reported on Tuesday.
A statement from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) was quoted by media reports as saying that all vessels except those involved in the drills would be banned from entering the waters off China's eastern Zhejiang province during the drills.
China Daily said that, although a Chinese defense official has said the drills are routine, some analysts believe they are directly linked to the U.S.-South Korean exercises, due to start in July, which include the deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
"Though the Chinese government did not say anything about the drill, anybody with common sense on military strategy will bet that they are related," Shi Yinhong, a senior expert on U.S. studies at Beijing-based Renmin University of China, was quoted by the paper as saying.
The United States and South Korea announced their decision to hold the drills after international investigators found North Korea responsible for the sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea in March. The drills were initially scheduled to take place earlier in June but have since been postponed until July.
PLA Deputy Chief of Staff Ma Xiaotian in early June described the "high-intensity surveillance of U.S. warships and planes in the South China Sea and East China Sea" as a major obstacle to China-U.S. military relations.
BEIJING, June 29 (RIA Novosti)