PLA conducts 2 more drills in Yellow Sea

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 July, 2010, 12:00am

The People's Liberation Army has conducted two more military drills in the Yellow Sea region - the second and third in 10 days - in an apparent response to ongoing joint US-South Korea military exercises nearby.

China Central Television's noon news broadcast yesterday said an artillery troop from the Nanjing Military Command's land force had tested a new type of long-distance multi-launch rocket with support from unmanned aircraft, radar and other reconnaissance equipment. The report did not detail the location or date of the drill but said it was taking place near the Yellow Sea.

Also yesterday, Xinhua reported that a military exercise involving rocket tubes, satellite communication vehicles and other facilities had been conducted by the Jinan Military Command in a coastal city on the Shandong Peninsula, which juts into the Yellow Sea.

CCTV's report did not mention the Jinan Military Command exercise. Xinhua's report did not mention the Nanjing Military Command drill.

CCTV said it was the PLA's first long-range rocket drill on such a massive scale. The TV broadcast showed a series of rockets being fired from 12-tube, 300-millimetre multiple-launch rocket systems, believed to be the PHL03 (known as the AR2 in its export version). A voiceover said the weapon played a key role in the army's long-range firepower.

On July 17, the PLA conducted an unprecedented maritime safety emergency drill in the Yellow Sea, based on a scenario that China was engaged in war with other countries.

Military observers said the PLA had seldom conducted drills in both land and sea areas in the Yellow Sea, close to the Korean Peninsula, in recent decades. With a firing range up to 150 kilometres, the PHL03 is similar to a small missile.

Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said that the rocket drill was also aimed at hinting that the PLA's land forces were capable of protecting China's ally North Korea if it was invaded. 'We realised that our navy is incapable of fighting with the USS George Washington, that's why we didn't conduct any anti-carrier missile tests in the Yellow Sea,' Ni said. 'However, the PLA's land force is strong enough to expel invaders under the support of long-distance rockets and missiles.'

Tensions between Beijing and Washington began to rise after reports that the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington would be involved in joint exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, off the east coast of China. But those plans were dropped after repeated protests from Beijing, and the Pentagon said the carrier would just appear in seas east of the Korean Peninsula.

A 10-yearly Sino-US relations survey conducted last year showed that up to 72 per cent of Chinese students and 65 per cent of the public had good feelings about the US - almost double the numbers a decade earlier.

But Jiang Changjian, an international relations professor at Shanghai's Fudan University who took part in the survey, said the good feelings would be ruined by America's participation in the Yellow Sea drills with South Korea, which started on Sunday. South Korea also said another round of joint military exercises with the US would take place in the Yellow Sea in September.

In Beijing, international law experts and retired PLA generals from the National Defence University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and others held a forum to 'look into the nature' of the US military's involvement in the Korean Peninsula crisis, China News Service reported.