Japanese naval units carried out antisubmarine warfare drills in the South China Sea on Monday while the U.S and Philippine navies conducted a joint sail in the South China Sea the same day. Meanwhile, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Royal Thai Navy (RTN) commenced the joint naval and marine forces drill Blue Strike 2023 on Sunday, which takes place around the Gulf of Thailand and Eastern Thailand.
China’s Ministry of National Defense has pushed back against the U.S position on the dispute over Second Thomas Shoal. During the Ministry’s monthly press conference on Thursday, Ministry spokesperson Senior Col Wu Qian stated that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters, and the Philippines action violated China’s sovereignty. “The U.S has encouraged, supported and helped the Philippines in shipping building materials to the vessel illegally grounded at the Ren’ai Jiao [Second Thomas Shoal],” said Wu, who urged the U.S to stop meddling in the South China Sea.
Asked to comment on recent joint military exercises carried out in the South China Sea and on reports that the exercises targeted China, Wu replied, “China advocates that bilateral and multilateral defense and security cooperation between regional countries should contribute to peace and stability in the region, and should not target at other countries,” adding that the Chinese military will take solid measures to safeguard China’s national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.
Meanwhile, the PLAN and RTN are carrying out the joint bilateral drill Blue Strike 2023, which opened on Sunday at Sattahip Naval Base in Thailand, “During the joint training, the Marine Corps from both sides will conduct training exercises including urban warfare, light weapons shooting, sniping tactics, armored tactics, chemical defense, battlefield first aid, wilderness survival, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief,” stated a Chinese Ministry of National Defense release on Monday.
The drills will conclude on Sept. 10 with activity centered around the Gulf of Thailand and the Royal Thai Marines camp and training areas in Sattahip district. The PLAN has despatched frigate CNS Anyang (599), amphibious transport dock CNS Siming Shan (986), fleet oiler CNS Chaohu (890) and a Song-class submarine, while the Royal Thai Navy is deploying frigates HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG-471) and HTMS Naresuan (FFG-421) and amphibious assault ships HTMS Angthong (LPD-791) and HTMS Chang (LPD-792) for the drills.
Source : USNI News