China conducts 'live-fire confrontation drill' in Yellow Sea: Xinhua

BEIJING (AFP) - China's military carried out a "live-fire confrontation drill" on Thursday in the Yellow Sea in an exercise combining sea, air and land-based forces, state media reported.

The practice involved the firing of "various missiles, dozens of torpedoes and hundreds of shells", the official Xinhua news agency said in a dispatch from the eastern city of Qingdao, home of China's North Sea Fleet which participated in the exercise.

Citing a military statement, Xinhua said that the firing was for intercepting "water-surface, underwater and airborne targets", adding that the exercise marked the first time a "maritime missile combat supply exercise" had been carried out.

The drill took place amid what was described as a "complicated electric-magnetic environment", suggesting that offensive and defensive capabilities of an electronic and cyber nature were a key aspect of the training.

The Defence Ministry said in January that military training this year would focus on "improving fighting capacity" to win "local wars", as Beijing is embroiled in several maritime territorial disputes with neighbouring countries.

In May, China's State Council, or Cabinet, said in a white paper that the country would project its military power further beyond its sea borders and more assertively in the air.

China has rapidly expanded its navy in recent years, commissioning its first aircraft carrier in 2012 and adding to its submarine and surface fleets.

The increased military posture comes as Beijing asserts its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas, where it has disputes with several Asian neighbours including Japan and the Philippines.