BEIJING • China's navy has in recent days carried out more exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the Defence Ministry said, calling them routine drills.
Recent pictures on social media accounts of Chinese state media have also shown Chinese navy ships engaged in live-fire exercises in the South China Sea, without elaborating where they took place.
"The People's Liberation Army Navy, in recent days, organised a fleet to go to relevant seas in the South China Sea, by way of the Western Pacific, to carry out exercises," China's Defence Ministry said in a brief statement yesterday.
"This action is a routine arrangement made in accordance with this year's naval training plan," it added.
China claims almost all of the contested waters of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims but, recently, China has been at odds with the United States over the strategic waterway.
Washington has criticised Beijing's building of artificial islands in the South China Sea's Spratly archipelago and has conducted sea and air patrols nearby.
Last month, US B-52 bombers flew near some of China's artificial islands, while in October a US guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of them.
Last week, China expressed concern last week about an agreement between the US and Singapore to deploy a US P8 Poseidon spy plane to the city state, saying the move was aimed at militarising the region.