Last update 6/17/2011 10:33:00 AM (GMT+7)

China stages military drills in East Sea
VietNamNet Bridge - China is staging three days of military exercises in the East Sea and plans to boost its offshore maritime patrol force, as tensions with its neighbours simmer.
China has competing claims with Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei over potentially resource-rich areas in the East Sea which have flared in recent weeks.

According to the Global Times, 14 Chinese navy vessels recently staged drills in waters near China's southern tropical island of Hainan, including anti-submarine manoeuvres and the beach landing of troops.

The exercises in the East Sea were aimed at "defending atolls and protecting sea lanes," reports said.

The China Maritime Surveillance force meanwhile will be bolstered from the current staff of 9,000 to 15,000 personnel by 2020, the China Daily reported.

The force falls under the State Oceanic Administration, an agency that supervises China's coastline and territorial waters.

The patrol fleet will have 350 vessels by 2015 and 520 by 2020, the report said, citing an unnamed senior China Maritime Surveillance official. It will also have 16 planes by 2015.

China said Thursday it had dispatched a maritime patrol vessel to disputed South China Sea waters but insisted it was committed to peace in the region.

In the last two weeks, Chinese ships several times intruded Vietnam’s waters and harassed Vietnam’s ships.

The Philippines also accused China of violating their sovereignty in the East Sea. Manila planed to bring the issue to the United Nations.

Source: Global Times