Philippines monitoring Chinese drills in the South China Sea

The Philippines is monitoring the reported combat drills conducted by China in the South China Sea.

This, according to Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, following a recent Reuters report that said Beijing was holding exercises in a large “show of force” off Hainan Island in the South China Sea.

“Of course. Our Navy and Air Force are [monitoring]… Para alam natin kung ano ang mga ginagawa nila (So that we know what they’re doing),” Lorenzana told reporters on Wednesday, March 28.

Asked if the Chinese activity should be a cause for alarm, Lorenza replied: “I don’t think we should [be alarmed].”

“We don’t believe the Chinese will act provocatively by bringing their warships much more their aircraft carriers in disputed waters,” the Defense chief added.

Satellite images obtained by Reuters showed at least 40 ships and submarines flanking China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning this week. The photos were supposedly taken on Monday, March 26.

The activity was apparently part of what China earlier announced as routine exercises.

In a Global Times article last Sunday, March 26, military expert Song Zhongping revealed that China will conduct combat exercises in the South China Sea every month “unlike in previous years.”

According to the report, the monthly drills are aimed to test the navy’s combat readiness.

“The 2018 drills will be routine and will be held every month, unlike in previous years,” Song was quoted saying in China’s state-run newspaper.

“The South China Sea and East China Sea will be primary battlegrounds. The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is committed to be battle-ready through simulated combat training,” Song added.

Wang Xiaopeng, a maritime border expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, clarified that the Chinese exercises “do not target any specific country.”

“The drills do not target any specific country but they are focusing on enhancing China’s capability to safeguard the country’s sovereignty,” Wang told Global Times.

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