BEIJING (Bloomberg): China’s military plans to conduct at least five drills in various areas that include waters off its coast and in the South China Sea, amid simmering tensions with Taiwan and the US.
One of the announced military exercises will be held for three days in waters off the port city of Qingdao, home to a major naval base for the People’s Liberation Army, according to a statement by China’s Maritime Safety Administration on Thursday (April 20). Unspecified "major military activities” were conducted in the same area from 9am till noon on Tuesday.
The agency warned mariners against entering waters off the coast of Shandong province, an area that is the site of frequent military drills and well away from the territory of the US’s regional security partners.
China has escalated military and aerospace activities off its coast in recent days amid simmering tensions with Taiwan and the US. Beijing similarly declared an area north of the democratically run island off limits Sunday because of what it said was the risk of falling debris from the launch of a weather satellite.
Tensions over Taiwan, which Beijing considers to be part of China, are especially intense after President Tsai Ing-wen met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California earlier this month, prompting the Chinese military to conduct drills in the area. Beijing restricted flights and shipping around Taiwan in August as it held military exercises to protest a visit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The PLA will also hold drills starting 6pm Friday until 8am Sunday in the South China Sea, according to a separate statement from the Maritime Safety Administration on Wednesday.
This comes before the biggest US-Philippine military exercises, which run through next week - part of the wider push from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to advance the longstanding alliance. The US. recently gained expanded access to Philippine military sites, and the two nations are planning joint patrols in the South China Sea, where Beijing and Manila have a territorial dispute.