Iran Press TV
Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:27AM
China has announced that it is closing off a part of South China Sea to conduct a series of military drills this week.
China’s maritime administration said Monday that an area off the east coast of the island province of Hainan would be closed from Tuesday to Thursday.
The area of the sea identified is some distance from the Paracel islands and even further from the Spratlys, with both chains claimed by Beijing and several other neighboring states.
No further details have been released about the nature of the maneuvers.
The navy and Defense Ministry had no immediate comment in this regard.
The announcement comes days after the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against Beijing’s claims to the Spratly Islands, and sided with the Philippines that had filed the complaint.
China rejected the July 12 verdict, calling it unlawful and an attempt to deny Beijing’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights.
Beijing claims nearly all of the strategically vital South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The contested waters are believed to be rich in oil and gas.
The dispute has at times drawn in trans-regional countries, particularly the US, which says the court ruling is “final and legally binding.”
Beijing accuses Washington of meddling in regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.
The US, in turn, accuses China of carrying out what it calls a land reclamation program in the South China Sea by building artificial islands in the disputed areas.
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