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China announces drills in South China Sea close to Vietnamese coast

A Chinese flag flutters outside the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing, China February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The Chinese government declared that it will conduct military drills in the South China Sea for more than a week in a region between its southern province of Hainan and Vietnam, advising vessels to keep away.

The news: China has created artificial islands and airfields on several of its reefs and islets, causing significant alarm in the region and the United States.

  • The Hainan Maritime Safety Administration in a statement late Friday said that the drills will begin on the same day and extend until March 15.
  • It supplied coordinates for a region around midway between Sanya, Hainan, and Hue, Vietnam. A major Chinese navy facility is located in Sanya.

What’s going on: In a Chinese and English language announcement on its website, it stated, “Entering prohibited.”

  • Part of the area is well within Vietnam’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, and the country has repeatedly chastised China for alleged sovereignty violations.
  • The Chinese Defense Ministry and the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The backstory: When a Chinese oil rig began drilling in Vietnamese waters in 2014, tensions between the two countries reached their greatest point in decades. The event resulted with both sides smashing their boats and anti-China riots in Vietnam.

  • China conducts military drills in the South China Sea on a regular basis.
  • There are other conflicting claims from Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Brunei.
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