China to launch naval exercises in South China Sea: Maritime Authority
Amid US and Western accusations of pursuing "naval ambitions", China is set to conduct naval exercises in the South China Sea.
China will hold naval exercises in the South China Sea on Saturday, its maritime authority confirmed, after a week of Western frenzy over its military ambitions across the Pacific region.
The exercises, set to take place in the sea less than 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) off the coast of south China's Hainan province, come as the United States leads warnings over China's growing military and economic presence.
"Military exercises will be held and entry is prohibited," the Maritime Safety administration said in a statement Thursday, warning that an area of roughly 100 square kilometers would be closed off to maritime traffic for five hours.
The latest exercises come as Beijing faces a growing chorus of warnings from the United States and Western allies over its "naval ambitions". US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday accused Beijing of raising tensions over Taiwan.
"Beijing has engaged in increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity like flying PLA (People's Liberation Army) aircraft near Taiwan on an almost daily basis," Blinken claimed in a speech.
He also called for efforts to counterbalance China's "intent to reshape the international order."
Blinken's comments followed verbal sparring between Beijing and Washington over President Joe Biden's promise to "defend" Taiwan if attacked by China, made on the President's trip to the region earlier this week.
China has, in turn, vowed to defend its national interests over Taiwan, warning Washington not to underestimate Beijing's resolve and capabilities on the issue, slamming the US pledge to "defend" Taiwan as "playing with fire."