Chinese Navy holds war games in Sea of Japan

Beijing: Chinese planes and ships held war games in the Sea of Japan last week, the military said, during which Beijing displayed its latest-generation frigate at a time of bitter territorial disputes with Asian neighbors.

The defence ministry said in a statement on its website late Saturday that the long-range exercises staged Friday pitted a red army against a blue one in a simulated bomber attack on a naval task force.

It quoted the commander of an unidentified flight wing under the East Sea Fleet, Zhang Wenzhong, as saying the planes found, identified and struck their targets in a "radically short time."

In this Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 photo released by the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters of Japan, the Greek-flagged cargo ship Anangel Courage sails in the water off the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Japanese coast guard ships searched Friday, Aug. 12, for eight missing Chinese crewmembers after rescuing six others from a fishing boat that collided with the cargo ship off disputed islands, government officials said. The Chinese boat apparently sank Thursday after colliding with the cargo ship off the Senkaku islands, which China also claims. (11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters via AP)

Chinese planes and ships held war games in the Sea of Japan last week. AP.

The statement made no mention of what sort of conflict the exercise was intended as a response to, prospective foes or why the Sea of Japan was chosen as the location of the drills. However, China has grown increasingly assertive over its claim to a chain of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan, recently dispatching more than a dozen coast guard vessels as Chinese fishing vessels swarmed the surrounding waters.

The ministry said the main ships involved in the exercise were the Jingzhou, a latest-generation type 054A class stealth frigate of which China is planning to deploy more than two dozen, and the type 052C destroyer Xi'an.

The ministry said aircraft were guided to their targets with the aid of early warning planes.

Other types of aircraft involved weren't identified, although China has been touting the capabilities of its latest-generation long-range H-6K strategic bomber equipped with the DH-20 land-attack cruise missile, giving it the ability to hit targets as far away as Australia. Only Russia and the US are currently able to launch cruise missiles from the air.

Along with its island dispute with Japan, China is involved in an intense rivalry with the US over military dominance in the region. Tensions in the South China Sea have also risen after China refused to accept an international arbitration panel's ruling invalidating its claim to virtually the entire strategic water body.

China plans joint naval exercises with Russia in the South China Sea next month, a move criticised by the head of the US Pacific fleet as increasing instability in the region.

Updated Date: Aug 21, 2016 12:02 PM

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