Beijing: The Chinese military on Thursday held its largest ever maritime drill in the disputed South China Sea during which it displayed for the first time the country’s aircraft carrier strike group and the most advance weaponry of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
President Xi Jinping, also the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), reviewed the drill and addressed the sailors, PLA Daily reported. CMC is the overall high command of the 2-million strong Chinese military.
Forty-eight warships, 76 aircraft and more than 10,000 sailors and soldiers took part in the drill which was hailed as “the biggest maritime military parade since the foundation of the new China and a heroic display of the PLA Navy in the new era,” the PLA Daily reported today.
The drill was held amid frequent forays made by US naval and aircraft into the South China Sea to assert the freedom of navigation especially around the artificial islands built by China, where it has also established garrisons.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the area. It was the first maritime military parade held in the South China Sea and to be open to the public, state-run reported.
The PLA’s previous four maritime parades were held in Beihai. China’s aircraft carrier, Liaoning joined the parade for the first time.