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Foreign provocation won’t stop China’s military drills, says People’s Daily

BEIJING — China’s military will carry out drills regardless of foreign provocations and pressure, said the Communist Party’s newspaper yesterday, adding that exercises far out at sea like those conducted recently by its sole aircraft carrier will become the norm.

China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducting a drill in an area of South China Sea in December. PHOTO: REUTERS

China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducting a drill in an area of South China Sea in December. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING — China’s military will carry out drills regardless of foreign provocations and pressure, said the Communist Party’s newspaper yesterday, adding that exercises far out at sea like those conducted recently by its sole aircraft carrier will become the norm.

The People’s Daily said no amount of “word bombs”, such as American President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s South China Sea remarks, could stop China’s military drills.

“These provocations, pressure, fantasies and over-exaggerations will not prevent the normal drills of the Chinese military,” said the paper in a commentary, adding that the “meddling and disruption of countries from outside the region can only run counter to the consensus of common interests that accords with this region and the world”.

“Henceforth, the Chinese military’s exercises far out at sea will become a kind of normal, extremely normal drills,” said the paper.

China caused unease among some countries in the region last month when the carrier the Liaoning, accompanied by several warships, cruised around self-ruled Taiwan and into the Pacific for what China called routine drills. Earlier this month, Taiwan scrambled fighter jets and navy ships as the Liaoning then passed through the narrow waterway separating China from the island Beijing claims as its own.

For its part, Beijing was alarmed this month when Mr Tillerson said China should be denied access to islands it has built in the disputed South China Sea.

China has invested billions of dollars in an ambitious military modernisation programme, especially its navy.

The Chinese navy has been exercising in waters far from home more often as it seeks to hone its operational abilities, and it has joined international anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia. In 2015, five Chinese ships carried out exercises in international waters in the Bering Sea off the US state of Alaska.

China says it has a legitimate need to develop its “blue water” naval capabilities to protect the trade lanes on which the country’s economy depends, to defend the interests of its citizens overseas and uphold its global obligations. In 2015, a Chinese naval frigate evacuated foreign citizens from strife-torn Yemen, marking the first time that China’s military had helped other countries evacuate their people during an international crisis.

Meanwhile, three Chinese coast guard ships temporarily entered Japanese waters around the Japan-administered Senkaku group of islets in the East China Sea yesterday, said the Japan Coast Guard.

The vessels sailed in the territorial waters near the Senkakus, which China claims (it calls them Diaoyu), for nearly two hours after 9am before moving to a contiguous zone outside Japanese waters, said the coast guard. Chinese coast guard ships last entered Japanese territorial waters around Senkakus on Jan 8. AGENCIES

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