CHINA / MILITARY
PLA holds far sea exercises amid multinational drills targeting China, 'shows capability, determination against provocation'
Published: Aug 26, 2021 08:33 PM Updated: Aug 26, 2021 08:42 PM
A ship-borne helicopter attached to a destroyer flotilla with the navy under the PLA Northern Theater Command practices lifting off and landing on the flight deck of the guided-missile frigate Anqing during a maritime training exercise in late July, 2021. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Ma Yubin)

A ship-borne helicopter attached to a destroyer flotilla with the navy under the PLA Northern Theater Command practices lifting off and landing on the flight deck of the guided-missile frigate Anqing during a maritime training exercise in late July, 2021. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Ma Yubin)


With two multinational exercises near and said to be targeting China, including one involving maritime forces from Australia, Japan, India and the US, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly sent two naval flotillas featuring some of its world-class warships on far sea drills.

The flotillas made transits in straits north and south of Japan respectively on Tuesday, in a move experts said on Thursday displayed the PLA's high capability and strong determination in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and showed that China does not fear any provocation.

Maritime forces from Australia, Japan, India and the US began the Malabar 2021 exercise in the Philippine Sea on Thursday, with the goal of strengthening skills in combined maritime operations, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, live-fire gunnery events, replenishments-at-sea, cross-deck flight operations, and maritime interdiction operations, according to a statement on the website of the US 7th Fleet.

Foreign media reports claimed that the long-anticipated annual exercise is aimed at "keeping China in check."

Separately, warships of Japan and the US teamed up with the UK aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday in waters south of Japan's Okinawa, and the goal was also to contain China, Japan's Kyodo News reported on Wednesday.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Progressive Party on the island of Taiwan are scheduled to hold their first security talks on Friday, with the Chinese mainland's strength likely being a key item on the agenda, Voice of America reported on Wednesday.

Facing these provocations, the PLA held a series of far sea exercises, putting Japan, one of the "vanguards" in provoking China on its own doorstep recently, in between of two naval flotillas from the north and south, observers said.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on Tuesday spotted a PLA Navy flotilla consisting of four warships, namely the Type 055 destroyer Nanchang, the Type 052D destroyer Guiyang, a Type 903A supply ship with the hull number of 903, and a surveillance ship with the hull number of 799, which passed through the Soya Strait from the Sea of Japan and then sailed east, Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said in a press release on Wednesday.

Prior to this, this flotilla made a transit in the Tsushima Strait and entered the Sea of Japan on Sunday, the release said.

It is possible that this PLA flotilla could sail to the east of Japan, or it could sail further northeast to the Bering Sea near the US, since it features a supply ship that can help sustain a long voyage, observers said.

Also on Tuesday, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted another PLA Navy flotilla consisting of the Type 052D destroyer Zibo, the Type 052C destroyer Zhengzhou, and the Type 054A frigate Yiyang, as they sailed through the Miyako Strait, which is between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island, and then headed south into the Pacific Ocean, according to a separate press release by Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff on Wednesday.

This route means the second PLA flotilla could be near both multinational drills, with one held in the Philippine Sea and the other near Okinawa, observers said.

Two more press releases from the Japanese authority on Wednesday said that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force spotted a suspected TB-001 drone of the PLA above the East China Sea on Tuesday, then on Wednesday a Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft, a Y-9 patrol aircraft and a BZK-005 drone flying through the Miyako Strait, and then returned.

In addition to far sea exercises, China has held at least 120 drills in all Chinese sea areas over the past three months, openly available information show.

By holding the exercises, the Chinese military displayed its active status in defense, and this shows that China is fully capable of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, fears no provocation, and can deal with anyone who stirs up trouble on China's doorstep, Shi Hong, executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The warships featured in the PLA flotillas are world-class vessels, and that two far sea flotillas can be dispatched in different directions reflects the large size of the PLA's naval fleet, the high level of logistics support and maintenance, and the high combat preparedness, Shi said, noting that they demonstrated the PLA's high level in far sea training. 

The PLA exercises, although likely routinely scheduled, should be perceived as a warning not only to Japan but also to other provoking countries, particularly the US, the one who has been rallying gangs against China, a military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.

In response to the multinational exercises targeting China, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson at the Chinese Defense Ministry, said at a regular press conference on Thursday that instigating opposition and confrontation will in no way bring so-called freedom and openness, and such moves by the US have severely damaged regional peace and stability.


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