Don’t read too much into South China Sea drill, says Beijing
The ongoing South China Sea navy drill is part of the annual exercises, a Chinese navy spokesperson said, suggesting the avoidance of “excessive interpretations,” China Daily reported.
“Holding sea drills is a common practice for navies with various countries. The annual, regular drill by the Chinese navy aims to test the troops’ real combat abilities, boost their maneuverability, search and rescue power and the abilities to fulfil diversified military missions,” said spokesperson Liang Yang on Saturday.
Liang noted that such a drill is in line with international laws and practices, and the navy will continue to hold similar drills in the future.
“The Nansha Islands and nearby sea areas have been a part of China’s territories since ancient times, but some neighboring countries have long been illegally occupying some of the islands, building facilities there such as airports and even deploying heavy offensive weapons,” Liang said.
Liang also noted that “some powerful countries outside the region” lured other countries into the South China Sea issue, deployed vessels and aircraft on recon missions and held various exercises with China as the imaginary enemy, describing such activities as “posing severe threats to our country’s territory and sovereignty security and maritime interests while harming regional security, stability and the navigation freedom in the South China Sea.”
The Chinese navy will always stay on high alert and keep fully prepared to boost its ability to complete missions, firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and ensure regional peace and stability, Liang added.
Filipino fishermen remove Chinese buoys
Filipino fishermen found several buoys with Chinese markings near the disputed Scarborough Shoal and towed the devices back to shore northwest of the capital, Manila, Philippines officials said on Sunday.
China seized control of the rocky outcrop in the South China Sea in 2012 after a three-month stand-off with Philippine coast guard ships, preventing Filipino fishermen from getting near their traditional fishing grounds.
The shoal is about 125 nautical miles (230 km) west of the Philippines.
“Yes, there are buoys there,” said Desiree Edora, mayor of Masinloc town, which has jurisdiction over Scarborough Shoal.
“I already sent the chief of police to investigate the buoys,” she told Reuters.
“The buoys have Chinese markings,” one of the fishermen told the GMA television network in the area. “The markings showed the company that manufactured it. It even has phone numbers.”
The fishermen said they towed the buoys back to Masinloc to show officials there and turned them over to a coast guard detachment. They said they did not know why the buoys were there because there was no sign of any oil spills.