June 29, 2010 08:15
The Chinese military is staging a live fire exercise in the East China Sea to the east of Zhejiang Province late this month as a joint naval exercise by South Korea and the U.S. in the West Sea looms.
China's East Sea Fleet will stage the exercise from June 30 until July 5, the Wenzhou Wanbao newspaper reported Monday. It is an annual drill but the schedule has been moved up by 10 days from last year's July 10-15.
The point where the Chinese Navy plans to stage its annual exercise is some 700 km south of South Korea's Taean Peninsula and is believed to constitute a counterweight to the massive U.S. naval presence the joint drill will bring to China's doorstep.
In a notice on June 24, the Chinese military banned ordinary ships from traveling through those waters between midnight and 6 p.m. while the drill is being staged.
The Hong Kong Ming Pao daily hinted that the drill is being staged to counter the joint South Korea-U.S. exercise, saying, "It is rare for the Chinese military to issue advance notice of the exercise."
But Chen Hu, the editor of World Military Affairs, a magazine published by the official Xinhua news agency, told a semi-official Chinese media outlet that the drill is not just aimed at countering the joint South Korea-U.S. exercise. He said the drill, in which a large aircraft carrier fleet is participating, is a good training opportunity for the Chinese military and "will yield better results than in ordinary times."
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and state-run media have expressed opposition to the joint South Korea-U.S. exercise, which includes the 97,000 ton-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington, saying it creates "new tension" in Northeast Asia.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com