China has conducted large-scale naval exercises with “a large show of force” off Hainan Island in the South China Sea, Reuters reported.
Satellite images from Planet Labs, which were obtained by the news agency, showed at least 40 ships and submarines flanking China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, to which analysts described as “unusually large display of the Chinese military’s growing naval might.”
“Judging by the images, it does seem they are keen to show that elements of the South Sea Fleet are able to routinely join up with the carrier strike group from Dalian in the north,” security analyst Collin Koh of Rajaratnam School of International Studies said in the Reuters report.
“It does seem they want to show inter-fleet interoperability ━ something the Chinese Navy has been quietly working on for some time,” Koh added.
Koh also said that “while it highlights an extensive ability to deploy, we are still left to guess at the People’s Liberation Army Navy combat readiness.”
China announced that it will conduct combat drills in the South China Sea in the coming days but did not give specific details.
The drills come after the US guided-missile destroyer, USS Mustin, carried out a freedom of navigation operation in Mischief Reef, an island controlled by China but is within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
China, in response, referred to this operation as a “serious political and military provocation.” (SOURCE: Agence France Presse)