PLA ready for US provocations during Beijing Winter Olympics, holds drills in Xisha Islands
Published: Jan 27, 2022 08:14 PM
Fighter jets attached to a base under the PLA Naval Aviation University soar in the sky during a round-the-clock flight training exercise in late February, 2021.(Photo:

Fighter jets attached to a base under the PLA Naval Aviation University soar in the sky during a round-the-clock flight training exercise in late February, 2021.(Photo:

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is ready to deal with any US military provocations against China that could take place during the Beijing Winter Olympic Games which will kick off on February 4, the Chinese Defense Ministry said on Thursday. 

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson at China's Ministry of National Defense, made the remarks at a routine press conference on Thursday. These remarks came after the US recently conducted frequent military activities near China.

The US Navy has made a high-profile announcement that a US strategic nuclear submarine arrived in Guam, and multiple aircraft carrier strike groups gathered near China for military drills. On January 20, the USS Benfold guided missile destroyer illegally entered the Chinese territorial waters of the Xisha Islands without authorization from the Chinese government, and the PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and air forces that tracked, monitored and warned the US warship away.

These incidents have led analysts to believe the US and its allies may continue to hold military exercises near China during the Beijing Winter Olympics.

In response, Wu said that the Chinese military is fully prepared for any external provocations or emergencies that could take place during the Games.

In the latest example, a brigade affiliated with the naval aviation force of the PLA Southern Theater Command conducted day-and-night flight exercises based on the airfield on Yongxing Island, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Wednesday.

In the morning, four warplanes formed two aerial formations of two, flew at a low altitude close to the sea surface, stealthily approached targets and launched mock attacks, before returning to base at noon, the report said.

The aircraft received maintenance and were reloaded with munitions, and they took off again as night came for a two-versus-two mock aerial combat, the report said.

The report showed that naval J-11B fighter jets were involved in the drills.

Compared with missions from Chinese mainland-based airfields, the weather changes faster on the island and the presence of numerous seabirds complicates the situation, Hao Liqiang, a pilot at the brigade, was quoted by CCTV as saying.

In the nighttime mock aerial combat, pilots' situational awareness could be distorted, and the lack of any object of reference on the island was also challenging, Hao said, noting that the drills boosted pilots' technical and tactical skills as well as their performance under pressure.

Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Thursday that the drills were necessary in safeguarding national sovereignty and security, as the Xisha Islands and surrounding waters are inherent territories of China.

As a heavy fighter jet, the J-11B is a good choice for operating on airfields in islands and reefs in the South China Sea, because it has a long range and a high endurance, as well as a large payload capacity for weapons, Fu said.