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  • China Stages Its Biggest Parade of Navy Vessels and Aircraft

    BEIJING—China staged a show of force in the disputed South China Sea, with President Xi Jinping presiding over the country’s biggest ever parade of naval ships, submarines and aircraft.

    As Mr. Xi watched the procession off China’s southern coast Thursday, a maritime agency announced that live-fire naval drills would be held to the north in the stretch of water that separates the Chinese mainland from the island of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a rebel province.

    The maneuvers are the latest moves by Mr. Xi to showcase China’s military might. It is a growing concern to the U.S. and its partners, especially since Beijing stepped up efforts in recent years to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea, an area vital for global shipping.

    Mr. Xi, who is China’s military commander-in-chief, boarded a guided-missile destroyer to review a parade of 48 vessels—including nuclear missile submarines and China’s first aircraft carrier—sailing in formation off the island province of Hainan, state television showed.

    Wearing military fatigues, Mr. Xi was shown watching J-15 fighter jets taking off from the carrier, the Liaoning, following the parade, which China Central Television said included a total of 76 helicopters, fighters and bombers.

    He later dined and chatted with sailors on board the destroyer and delivered a speech, in which he said that building a world-class navy was part of his broader goal to “rejuvenate” the nation, the TV report said.

    “The mission of building a mighty people’s navy has never been more urgent than it is today,” Mr. Xi said. “Strive to make the people’s navy a first-rate world navy.”

    The display was “clearly intended to underscore Beijing’s interests in the South China Sea,” said Andrew Erickson, an expert on China’s military at the U.S. Naval War College.
    “It draws on its rapidly strengthening navy, which already has the world’s largest number of ships—slightly more than the U.S. Navy. Also important is what Beijing didn’t showcase in this event: To further its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere, it employs two other sea forces. China’s coast guard and maritime militia likewise have the world’s largest number of ships.”

    In recent days, U.S. officials said that China appeared to be staging its biggest ever naval exercises in the South China Sea, after satellite images showed more than 40 ships sailing in formation near Hainan.

    The drills came as a U.S. aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, visited the region, stopping in Singapore last week and arriving on Wednesday in the Philippines, a U.S. treaty ally whose territorial claims overlap with Beijing’s in the South China Sea.

    The Chinese exercises took place from March 24 to April 5 off the coast of southern Guangdong province and then moved further south off the coast of Hainan, where they concluded on Thursday, according to notices from the provinces’ maritime safety administrations.
    Another live-fire drill is scheduled to take place next Wednesday in the Taiwan Strait, according to the maritime safety administration of Fujian province, which lies opposite Taiwan. It did not provide further details.

    Tensions have also been rising between the Chinese leadership and Taiwan, the democratically ruled island that split from the mainland in a civil war nearly seven decades ago and whose current government has refused to endorse Mr. Xi’s preferred formulation for relations between the two sides.
    Taiwan’s defense ministry issued a statement saying the exercises appeared to be part of routine annual drills and that they were fully capable of responding.


    This article was originally published in forum thread: China Stages Its Biggest Parade of Navy Vessels and Aircraft started by EB88 News View original post

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