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Chinese military holds combat exercises in East China Sea

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Just days after the US and Japan completed a large joint naval exercise in the western Pacific, the Chinese military went on three sets of simultaneous maritime exercises.

China’s Eastern Theatre Command conducted combat exercises in the East China Sea to enhance air defenses and maneuverability, as well as put major weapons to the live-fire test, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Three destroyers took part in the exercise, including the Type 052D Xiamen, which is significantly more advanced than its predecessors.

Meanwhile, in the South China Sea, the Southern Theatre Command deployed the Type 903 Weishanhu supply ship and the medical ship Youai to conduct search and rescue, resupply, and live-fire drills to evaluate their ability to work together in war scenarios.

A big rescue practice in the Yellow Sea was also staged on Wednesday by the Northern Theatre Command, which included a search and rescue operation with a burning vessel.

The drills took place just two days after the United States and Japan completed their five-day Noble Fusion 2022 exercise.

About 15,000 US sailors and marines, as well as 1,000 members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, took part in the drill, which took place along part of the “first island chain,” a strategic chain of islands stretching from Okinawa to Taiwan and the Philippines, according to Stars and Stripes.

According to the report, it was the largest drill of its sort since “two US amphibious ready groups and two Marine expeditionary units combined in the Indo-Pacific region in 2018”.

“The training included air-to-ground strikes by aircraft, air-to-air refueling, raids at sea and on shore, along with expeditionary advanced base operations, a relatively new Marine fighting doctrine that calls for forward bases dispersed across small islands,” the report said.

The exercise took place in waters east of Taiwan, in what was considered as a show of force in the vicinity of China.

The exercise was not directed at a specific adversary, said to US commander Rear Admiral Chris Engdahl, but rather to demonstrate the “ability to mass force and move quickly as well as strengthen partnerships.”

“It’s a message to our allies; it’s a message to the other nations that are in the Indo-Pacific,” Engdahl was quoted as saying. “This is a force that can support you and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The naval drills, according to Beijing-based military expert Zhou Chenming, were intended to evaluate strength and readiness.

“Through these drills, China and the US can test each other’s intentions, and also military capabilities and preparedness,” he said.

Image Credit: Weibo

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