Amid South China Sea tensions, Beijing kicks off military exercises
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Amid South China Sea tensions, Beijing kicks off military exercises

world Updated: Jul 16, 2016 17:06 IST
China military exercise,South China Sea,South China Sea tensions

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy patrol at Woody Island in the Paracel Archipelago, which is known in China as the Xisha Islands, on January 29, 2016. (Reuters file photo)

Chinese military on Saturday kicked off large scale military exercises, amid the South China Sea tensions, pressing troops from the five theatre commands of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) simulating real battle conditions.

The military drills which began on Friday will last will last until September and aimed to boost the military’s “trans-regional” capabilities, state run Xinhua news agency reported.

A Xinhua report on July 14 said that theexercises will be held at Zhurihe training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Seen as one of the key manoeuvres after the establishment of the PLA’s new command structure, the event will see mixed army brigades sent from each theatre command separately confront a PLA troop posing as the enemy.

While the selection of brigades taking part in the drill would have been based on recommendations in the past, they were randomly selected this time, giving more troops chance to participate, chief director Wang Zhian said.

In this May 6, 2016 file photo, soldiers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy watch as the USS Blue Ridge arrives at a port in Shanghai. (AP file photo)

Wang said commanders’ efficiency will be a greater part of evaluation of this drill, and the opposing sides will switch roles of attack and defence instead of each playing a single role throughout.

The drill will be tougher than previous versions, involving more nighttime manoeuvres and harsher requirements for live-fire assaults.

The schedule was pushed to July from the usual May to give troops more time for preparatory training. The drills were being held in the back drop of verdict of the tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration which has struck down China’s historic claims over the South China Sea.

China has boycotted the proceedings of the tribunal and rejected the verdict and refused to implement it.

First Published: Jul 16, 2016 17:06 IST