PLA staging large night-landing drills in Bohai, Yellow Sea
The People's Liberation Army has launched a large-scale night-landing military exercise in the Bohai Sea and the northern part of the Yellow Sea, state media reported.
It was the first military exercise conducted by the PLA since the conclusion of the third plenum of the Communist Party's Central Committee a week ago in Beijing.
Several photos of the exercise released by state media yesterday showed the joint landing drills by the army, navy and air force at night under live fire.
"Nearly 20 combat units - more than 5000 troops - took part in the exercise, which focused on joint reconnaissance, maritime transport, information and live fire attacks, assault landings and other military exercises," the official news service said.
"Such large-scale drills have seldom been staged," Beijing-based military analyst Li Jie , said. "The military might need to extend the duration of the drill because they have included a lot of new items."
During the plenum, the party pledged to improve the Central Military Commission's joint operation command and the PLA's theatre joint operation command system.
The Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration issued two warnings to shipping on Thursday that military exercises would be carried out in the Bohai Strait from 7am to 6pm on Friday and in waters from the Bohai Strait to the north of the Yellow Sea from 4pm until 4pm all week.
The authorities originally closed part of the Bohai Strait to shipping last week for a two-day drill which was later called off. The Defence Ministry refused to give reasons behind the cancellation, saying that "it's normal behaviour to conduct or cancel military activities within China's territory".
But the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre issued a warning on Thursday about rough seas in Bohai. It is not clear whether that was a factor in cancelling the drill.
The PLA drill follows large military manoeuvres conducted by Japan. From November 1 until yesterday, 34,000 army, navy and air force troops from the Japan Self-Defence Forces, accompanied by six naval ships and 350 aircraft, practiced amphibious landings on the uninhabited Okidaito atoll, 400 kilometres southeast of Okinawa.