China says it will hold military exercises in the South China Sea this week. Tuesday’s announcement came just days after China criticized the arrival of a U.S. aircraft carrier group in the disputed waters.
China’s Maritime Safety Administration released a notice banning entry into some of the sea -- from the Gulf of Tonkin to the west of the Leizhou peninsula -- in southwestern China. The ban is set for January 27 to 30. China did not release further details about the planned exercises.
A U.S. carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea on Saturday. The U.S. military said its purpose there is to demonstrate support for “freedom of the seas.” The move comes just days after new U.S. President Joe Biden took office.
Differences over the disputed sea have created problems in the U.S.-China relationship. The U.S. does not have any territorial claims over the sea. But it believes the waters should be free to other nations. The U.S. military has increased its activities in the area in recent years.
China claims large parts of the South China Sea. Other claimants include Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan. China says its claims come from historical usage of the waters. Trillions of dollars of trade flow through the waters every year.
On Monday, China said the United States often sends aircraft and ships to the South China Sea to “flex its muscles.” It also said the U.S. actions did not create an environment of peace and stability in the area.
Taiwan, meanwhile, began military exercises Tuesday after several Chinese warplanes flew into the island nation’s air defense area over the weekend. Taiwanese air force jets took to the skies in a show of battle readiness.
China claims Taiwan as its territory. On Saturday and Sunday, Chinese fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers flew into the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defense identification area.
The Taiwanese military base in the southern city of Tainan often sends jets to intercept planes from China’s air force. Flight crews aim to get jets in the air within five minutes of the first emergency call.
Colonel Lee Ching-shi told Reuters Taiwanese jets usually go up armed with guns and missiles when reacting to Chinese jets, and are ready to respond “at any time.”
“We are ready,” he said during a government-organized visit to the base. “We will not give up one inch of our territory.”
China has given no explanation for the most recent actions of its aircraft. U.S. officials called on China to stop pressuring Taiwan, and reaffirmed its support for the democratic island.
While Taiwan’s air force is well trained, it has far fewer military aircraft than China. Over the past few months, forces from Taiwan have had to react to continuous Chinese military activity near the island.
I’m Susan Shand.
The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.
Words in This Story
maritime – adj. of or relating to the sea
flex – v. to move or tighten a muscle
muscle – n. the body tissue that makes movement possible
stability – adj. the quality or state of something that is not easily changed or likely to change
capable – adj. the ability to do or have something
intercept – v. to stop, seize or interrupt something in progress
reaffirm – v. to state something as true again
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