Chinese exercises came when the US aircraft carrier group Nimitz also conducted naval strike training in the disputed waterway.
China’s navy has conducted a series of “confrontational exercises” in the South China Sea, according to state media, while a US group of aircraft carriers launched a “maritime strike training” in the disputed waterway.
The Chinese Navy’s Shandong aircraft carrier group conducted “realistic combat-oriented confrontation exercises” in the South China Sea, the Communist Party’s news website Global Times reported Sunday, citing a statement from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
During the exercises, which simulated hostile aircraft attacks, J-15 fighter jets took off from the Shandong and conducted intercept training, the Global Times reported. The carrier group also practiced attack and defense on the surface, in the air and underwater, it added.
The report came as the US Navy said its Nimitz carrier strike group was also conducting exercises in the South China Sea as part of its “routine operations in the Indo-Pacific”.
Beijing claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea and has established military outposts on artificial islands it has built there.
Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines also have claims to the resource-rich waters.
Washington calls Beijing’s claims to the waterway “illegitimate” and regularly sends warships through the area in what it calls “freedom of navigation” exercises.
In a statement on Friday, the U.S. Navy said the Nimitz carrier strike group — consisting of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a guided-missile cruiser and three guided-missile destroyers — has been conducting “maritime strike training” and “anti-submarine warfare.” operations” in the South China Sea.
The carrier strike group also conducted “integrated multi-domain and joint training between surface and air elements, and flight operations with fixed and rotary wing aircraft,” the Navy said.
A US defense official, meanwhile, told CNN that two Chinese ships were following the Nimitz aircraft carrier group.
Chinese defense experts quoted by Global Times said the US aircraft carrier’s activities in the South China Sea “have limited military significance and will only exacerbate tension in the region”.
The Chinese military will “monitor potentially provocative movements on China’s doorstep and the foreign troops would serve as training partners that contribute to the combat readiness of the PLA,” the tabloid quoted analysts as saying.
In December, the US military said a Chinese J-11 fighter jet intercepted one of its reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, flew within six meters (20 feet) of the RC-135 aircraft and performed an “unsafe” maneuver. China’s defense ministry dismissed the US claims as “slander” and “hype”, saying it was the US pilot who had engaged in “dangerous” flying.
And in November, China’s navy said it had chased away a US naval vessel that had “illegally encroached” into waters off the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
The meeting came days after US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines calling for freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, pledging to launch an international campaign against “irresponsible behavior” in the disputed waterway.