Tuesday, August 03, 2010

China to hold large-scale air force drill

Reuters India is reporting that China's air force begins a five-day exercise on Tuesday with fighter jets, spy planes and helicopters, state media said, against a backdrop of increased diplomatic and military tensions with Washington.

The increased activity comes as China and the United States have argued over joint U.S.-South Korean drills in the seas off South Korea, and coincides with Beijing's anger at U.S. comments about a sensitive territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

The new drills, featuring more than 12,000 soldiers, will take place across the central province of Henan and eastern coastal province of Shandong, which backs onto the Yellow Sea, the official Xinhua news agency said in a brief report.

Part of the "Vanguard 2010" exercises will take place at night, Xinhua said

China reacted with fury to joint U.S. and South Korean drills in the Yellow Sea last month, which ended up being largely shifted to the Sea of Japan.

Beijing said the manoeuvres threatened its security and regional stability. The United States and South Korea said they were aimed at deterring North Korea.

That spat was followed by another, this time involving the strategically-located South China Sea, an area disputed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

China has repeatedly said its claims on the waters and islands of the sea are indisputable, and denounced U.S. comments on the issue at a security forum in Vietnam last month.

China's growing military might and increased defence spending have raised alarm bells around the region, especially in Japan and Taiwan, the self-ruled island over which Beijing asserts sovereignty.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)