China Holds Military Exercises in the South China Sea near Vietnam

The Chinese government announced it was conducting military exercises in the South China Sea in the area between southern Hainan and Vietnam for more than a week.

China claims most of the countries’ disputed waterways as part of its territory. Beijing’s construction of artificial islands and airfields on several coral reefs and islets has caused widespread concern in the region as well as in the United States.

In a statement late Friday, the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration said the drills would begin Friday and last until March 15.

China provided the coordinates of the area which is roughly between Sanya in Hainan and Hue City in Vietnam. Sanya is home to China’s main naval base.

Part of the area is within Vietnam’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. And Ho Chi Min has previously criticized Beijing for what he called a violation of its sovereignty.

In 2014, tensions between Vietnam and China peaked to their highest level in decades when Chinese oil rigs began drilling in Vietnamese waters. The incident sparked a shipwreck by both sides and anti-China riots in Vietnam.

China regularly conducts military exercises in the South China Sea. [ah]