China to Hold Large-Scale Air Force Drill
Tuesday, 03 August 2010

China's air force begins a five-day exercise starting on Tuesday with fighter jets, spy planes and helicopters, state media said, against a backdrop of increased diplomatic and military tensions with Washington.

Chinese media has announced several military drills over the past few weeks, including of naval forces. Such events are normally shrouded in secrecy and little reported on, but the military has recently said it is trying to be more open.

The increased activity comes as China and the United States have argued over joint US-South Korean drills in the seas off South Korea, and coincides with Beijing's anger at US comments about a sensitive territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

The new drills, featuring more than 12,000 soldiers, will take place across the central province of Henan and eastern coastal province of Shandong, which backs onto the Yellow Sea, the official Xinhua news agency said in a brief report.

Part of the "Vanguard 2010" exercises will take place at night, Xinhua said.

"This is an important part of the military region's annual exercises," the report added. It gave no further details.

China reacted with fury to joint US and South Korean drills in the Yellow Sea last month, which ended up being largely shifted to the Sea of Japan.

Beijing said the manoeuvres threatened its security and regional stability. The United States and South Korea said they were aimed at deterring North Korea.

That spat was followed by another, this time involving the strategically-located South China Sea, an area disputed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

China has repeatedly said its claims on the waters and islands of the sea are indisputable, and denounced US comments on the issue at a security forum in Vietnam last month.

China's growing military might and increased defence spending have raised alarm bells around the region, especially in Japan and Taiwan, the self-ruled island over which Beijing asserts sovereignty.

Southeast Asian nations are worried at China's more aggressive stance on a complex set of territorial disputes in the South China Sea.


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