Since the U.S. State Department revised its statement on relations with Taiwan in early May, the waters surrounding Taiwan have also become more lively. The PLA will conduct drills in the waters of the South China Sea on the 28th. Previously, the Eastern Theater Command of the PLA announced twice in May that it would conduct large-scale actual combat drills targeting Taiwan Island. On May 25, in response to the US-Taiwan collusion activities, a multi-service and arms joint combat readiness patrol and actual combat drills were organized in the sea and airspace around Taiwan Island. . Although Chinese officials have not confirmed it, it is widely believed that the Liaoning aircraft carrier formation participated in the exercise in early May. Against this background, the scale and timing of the PLA’s exercise on the 28th is particularly eye-catching. Some analysts believe that the South China Sea exercise specifications will not be low either, and the possibility that large warships including the 075 “Small Flat Top” (Type 075 amphibious assault ship) and the 0.55 million-ton large-scale expedition may be involved cannot be ruled out.
Up to now, the only official news of the South China Sea exercise is the navigation warning issued by the maritime department. On May 26, the Sanya Maritime Safety Administration issued a navigation warning saying that from 8:00 to 13:00 on May 28, military training in some waters of the South China Sea is prohibited. At present, there are a total of 4 navigation warnings related to military training issued by the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration, covering various time periods from May 28 to June 1. In other words, the exercise period may last from the 28th to June 1st.
In response to the PLA’s South China Sea exercise, the reaction from the outside world is also very interesting.
“Beijing plans new naval exercises in the South China Sea amid warnings from the West,” the headline of an article on India’s New Delhi TV website. The drills, planned to take place in waters less than 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) off the coast of China’s Hainan province, come as the United States warns of China’s growing military and economic presence in the region from the South China Sea to the Pacific islands, the report said. China’s maritime authority said in a statement on Thursday that the navigation warning covers an area of about 100 square kilometers and that maritime traffic will be banned for five hours.
Singapore’s “Straits Times” website also reported the incident on the 27th, citing news from Agence France-Presse. The title was “China plans new exercises in the South China Sea”. Taiwan’s “Central Broadcasting Station” also reported on the theme of “Ignoring the U.S.’s warning to the mainland’s South China Navy exercise on the 28th”.
As for Japan and the United States, Kyodo News published a number of high-profile articles related to China on the 27th. The article titled “Focus: Japan is vigilant about the frequent activities of the Chinese military affecting the security environment” said that the activities of the Chinese military have been frequently confirmed in Japan’s surrounding areas this month. The aircraft carrier Liaoning stayed in the Pacific waters south of Okinawa for about three weeks, taking off and landing more than 300 carrier-based fighter jets and helicopters. The bomber flew twice, one of which was the China-Russia long-distance joint flight again since November last year. The Chief of Staff of the Japanese Defense Ministry Koji Yamazaki stressed at a press conference on the 26th to be vigilant, saying that “this is an activity that the Liaoning ship has not done before, and it has a great impact on the security environment.”
On the 2nd of this month, the Liaoning ship sailed from the East China Sea between the main island of Okinawa and Miyako Island into the Pacific Ocean, with guided missile destroyers and comprehensive supply ships sailing together. The Liaoning ship returned to the East China Sea on the 21st. During this period, the Ministry of Defense announced that there were carrier-based aircraft taking off and landing for a total of 12 days. The Maritime Self-Defense Force dispatched the Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter frigate “Izumo”, which was actually transformed into an aircraft carrier, and continued to track and monitor it for more than a week.
The Liaoning ship began to appear in the Pacific Ocean after 2016. The number of carrier-based aircraft taking off and landing this time exceeded the values confirmed in 2018, 2020 and 2022, reaching a new high. In addition, the Liaoning ship is still operating in the waters close to Taiwan. There is a view within the Ministry of Defense that this is an activity to respond to the US warship in the event of an emergency in Taiwan.
On the evening of the 27th, Japan’s Kyodo News released the latest news of the Japanese-US naval exercise, saying that “the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US aircraft carrier jointly trained in the south of Kanto”. However, this exercise has been going on for several days, and the websites of the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the Maritime Self-Defense Force have continuously released relevant exercises.
The Global Times “Privy Council No. 10” believes that Japan’s move has the intention of using the US master to deter China. At the same time, it also reflects that the PLA’s South China Sea exercises have not yet started, and some people are already in a cold sweat.
The interaction between the United States and Japan does not stop there. The U.S. Navy has dispatched the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to Japan since January. The aircraft carrier docked at the Yokosuka base on the 21st of this month and left the port on the 26th. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Twitter account also posted the news of the drill with the U.S. Navy on the same day.
The U.S. Air Force Magazine said on the 26th that the United States conducted drills with Japan and South Korea in response to North Korea’s missile launch. According to reports, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force dispatched 4 F-15 fighter jets, and the United States dispatched 4 F-16 fighter jets.
At the same time, the United States has also stepped up its reconnaissance of movements in the South China Sea, which cannot be ruled out as being related to the PLA’s South China Sea drills. According to the Twitter account of the South China Sea Strategic Situational Awareness Platform on the 26th, the U.S. Navy’s “Mermaid Poseidon” drone flew a very rare route on the 26th. From the route map, it seems that the drone flew over the airspace of the Philippines.
Japan has also cooperated with the United States to strengthen its involvement in the South China Sea issue. The departure ceremony of the large multi-purpose vessel provided by the Japanese government to the Philippine Coast Guard was held at Shimonoseki Port in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the 27th. This is the second ship of this type provided by Japan, with a total length of 97 meters and a displacement of 2,260 tons. Equipped with the latest radar, etc. on board, it will become the largest class of ships operated and managed by the Philippine Coast Guard. According to reports, the ship will be deployed in the South China Sea together with the first ship of the same model, and will be responsible for territorial sea security and rescue operations, aiming to contain China, which is strengthening its maritime activities.
In order to get involved with the Philippines, Japan’s Kyodo News reported an English-language article on the 27th that the Philippines began to use the Subic Bay naval base to counter China. Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Force plans to deploy aircraft at Subic Bay International Airport to monitor and respond to maritime disputes. The “Privy Council No. 10” pointed out that the Japanese media forced the Philippines’ use of its own seaport facilities to confront China, and the meaning of provocation was very obvious.
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