- China kicked off its annual combat drills in South China Sea, east Indian Ocean and west Pacific
- The military drills started on May 4, 2016
- The military exercises aim to enhance combat readiness and practice coordination between ships and aircraft, and other forces
China kicked off combat drills in South China Sea, east Indian Ocean and west Pacific in an apparent bid to flex its military muscles.
The annual military drills started with the departure of three naval ships of China’s Nanhai Fleet – missile destroyer Hefei, missile frigate Sanya and supply ship Honghu – from a naval port in Sanya on Wednesday, May 4.
Sanya is the southernmost city of Hainan Island, which is located in the South China Sea and home to a naval base for nuclear submarines as well as a naval air force base.
The ships will later be joined by two more missile destroyers, Lanzhou and Guangzhou, and missile frigate Yulin, which are currently carrying out other missions.
In an article by Reuter’s Ben Blanchard that was published by Business Insider on May 5, 2016, the ships would take part in anti-submarine, anti-missile and other exercises.
The Diplomat noted that Chinese forces stationed on both the Spratly and Paracel islands will also be involved in the military drills.
“The fleet will mobilize naval air force, garrison forces in the Xisha [Paracel] and Nansha [Spratly] islands, and forces of the Beihai Fleet along the way to take part in the drill,” The Diplomat wrote.
According to People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the annual combat drill “aims to enhance combat readiness and practice coordination between ships and aircraft, and other forces.”
“With three helicopters and dozens of ‘special warfare’ soldiers, the fleet will be separated into three groups that will sail to areas of the South China Sea, the east Indian Ocean, and the west Pacific, to conduct varied drills,” PLAN added.