China Stages Naval Exercises
BEIJING — China’s Marine Corps held a major naval exercise on Tuesday in the South China Sea, state-run media reported on Wednesday, massing 1,800 troops and more than 100 ships, submarines and aircraft for a live-fire display of the nation’s growing military power.
The waters have been the scene of increased tensions between China and its neighbors this year over competing claims to islands and seabed mineral rights. But one prominent Chinese military analyst called the war games a routine annual event that was unrelated to those claims or recent American moves to shore up diplomatic ties with nations in the region.
The exercises, code-named Jiaolong 2010, were viewed by 200 military students from 40 nations who discussed the maneuvers with Chinese commanding officers, the Communist Party newspaper Global Times reported. The newspaper quoted an unnamed officer as saying that the exercises were staged to showcase the Marines, part of the People’s Liberation Army, and to gain advice from other nations’ militaries. It also quoted one military analyst, Li Jie, as saying that the maneuvers were staged in part because unnamed nations have intervened in the sea in recent years, “so it’s time to oppose these intervention with power politics.”
Chinese officials have been sharply critical of an American offer to mediate territorial disputes in the region, first raised last summer by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Ms. Clinton repeated the offer last week during a stop in Hanoi, rejecting Chinese arguments that Washington is interfering in its diplomatic affairs.
But a former submarine officer who is now a leading military analyst on state television, Song Xiaojun, dismissed that view in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “It’s an ordinary exercise,” he said, driven in part by the military’s need to test its rapidly growing arsenal of ships, aircraft and weapons.
“It’s better not to take this as a kind of opposition between different parties,” he said. “It’s not like we’re talking about World War I or World War II, when countries were busy building vessels and competing. Those days are gone.”