China to launch naval drills ahead of South China Sea ruling

Illustration: Chinese Type 054A frigate Yueyang

China’s maritime safety administration on Sunday said it would hold military drills in and around the disputed South China Sea territories.

Beijing plans to carry out exercises from July 5 to 11 in an area that stretches from the east of China’s Hainan Island all the way to the Paracels.

Chinese naval vessels will thereby prohibit all other vessels from entering the region during the exercises which end one day before the international South China Sea ruling which is scheduled for July 12.

The International Court of Justice is set to hand down a ruling in the case brought by the Philippines against Chinese claims to most of the South China Sea.

While the Chinese Navy regularly conducts military drill in the disputed area, it is widely believed that Beijing is anticipating an unfavorable ruling in the case.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea and has lately been building a net of artificial islands in contested parts of the sea. The United States claim that these islands would allow the Chinese to control one of the world’s most important energy trade routes, as EIA, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, put it.

Chinese officials have repeatedly stated that they would not accept any outside court-ruling on the dispute.

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