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BEIJING – China says its maritime forces staged three days and nights of exercises in the South China Sea, a disputed, resource-rich region where tensions are rising.
The official People's Daily newspaper said Friday that the drills involved a total of 14 patrol boats, landing craft and submarine hunting boats, along with two military aircraft. It says the exercises were aimed at refining anti-submarine, replenishment and island defense capabilities in dealing with a sudden crisis.
The paper did not say exactly when or where the exercises took place, although a graphic accompanying the story implied they were held near the Spratly Islands, where China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam all maintain garrisons.
In addition, the military's official Liberation Army Daily newspaper reported that an exercise was held on June 6 in which amphibious vehicles — most likely tanks — were successfully offloaded from ships onto a South China Sea island. No other details were given, and it was unclear whether the exercise was among those the People's Daily reported.
The report of the exercises follows the dispatch Wednesday of one of its largest maritime patrol ships on a first-ever visit to Singapore, a voyage in which it will transit the South China Sea.