China will conduct military drills in the South China Sea on Thursday, less than a week after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near disputed islands claimed by Beijing in the region.
The Japan Times reported that China’s Maritime Safety Administration announced the planned day-long military exercises in a brief statement Wednesday. The country ordered non-military vessels to stay away from a designated section of the sea south of Hainan island and northwest of the disputed Paracel Islands.
The U.S. Navy on Friday sailed a warship close to the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam but occupied by China. The operation was conducted “in a routine, lawful manner without ship escorts and without incident” and “demonstrated that coastal states may not unlawfully restrict the navigation rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea,” a Navy spokesman said last week.
The United States has periodically sailed warships close to disputed territories in the South China Sea in exercise of freedom of navigation, drawing ire from Beijing. The U.S. operations have abided by the rules of “innocent passage,” meaning that the warships do not sail within 12 nautical miles of disputed territories.
Full article: China Announces Military Drills in South China Sea After U.S. Navy Patrol (Washington Free Beacon)