China says its aircraft carrier group recently conducted routine annual exercises in the South China Sea after Beijing criticized the United States for sending Navy ships to the strategic area
BEIJING – China’s Shandong aircraft carrier group recently conducted routine annual exercises in the South China Sea, the People’s Liberation Army said on Sunday after Beijing criticized the United States for sending Navy ships to the strategic area.
The Chinese Ministry of Defense last week asked the United States to restrict its frontline forces in the air and in the seas near China. US reconnaissance planes and warships have become more active in China since President Biden took office, he said.
The South China Sea is particularly controversial because China’s smaller neighbors also claim one of the busiest sea routes in the world, which Beijing practically claims in its entirety. China has built several artificial islands in disputed waters in what the United States says is a move to militarize the area.
Navy spokesman Gao Xiucheng said in a statement that the exercises were entirely legitimate and part of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as maintaining regional peace and stability.
“We hope that the outside world sees this in an objective and rational way. In the future, the Chinese navy will continue to carry out exercises similar to planned, ”said Gao.
Shandong is the second Chinese aircraft carrier to enter service after Liaoning, which was originally purchased as a hulk from Ukraine and completely renovated.