China navy to carry out Pacific exercises
By Ted Aljibe
China has said it will conduct “routine” naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean, in the week after a major diplomatic campaign by US President Barack Obama to assert the United States as a Pacific power.
The defence ministry said the exercises, to be held later this month, did not target any particular country, but the announcement comes against a background of growing tensions over maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific region.
Obama, who has dubbed himself America’s first Pacific president, said last week the United States would deploy up to 2,500 Marines to Australia and tighten air force cooperation, a move seen as a response to China’s growing regional might.
China’s freedom of navigation “shall not be subject to any form of hindrance”, the defence ministry said in a brief statement late Wednesday announcing the naval exercises in the western Pacific.
“This is a routine drill arranged under an annual plan, does not target any particular country or target, and complies with relevant international laws and international practice,” it added.
Obama flew home Saturday after a seven-day tour of Pacific nations during which he took in a trio of summits and announced greater military involvement in the region.