Beijing has announced that it is closing off part of the South China Sea for military exercises this week, warning that freedom of navigation patrols by foreign navies could end “in disaster.”
Hainan’s maritime administration said an area southeast of the island province would be closed from Monday to Thursday, but failed to give any details about the nature of the exercises, AP reported. The navy and Defense Ministry gave no immediate comment.
The announcement came during a three-day visit to China by US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson to discuss the South China Sea dispute and ways to increase interaction between the two militaries, which continue to have a tense relationship.
Beijing also stated on Monday that it would not halt the construction on islands and reefs in the South China Sea, state news agency Xinhua reported the head of the country’s navy as saying, adding that China will not leave the outcropping that is under construction half finished.
However, despite the meeting between the US and Chinese militaries, Sun Jianguo, an admiral and deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission, said behind closed doors on Saturday that freedom of navigation patrols by foreign navies in the South China Sea could end “in disaster,” according to comments seen by Reuters on Monday… see more