China will mount an unusually long military exercise in waters off the northern port city of Tangshan to catch up on training missed during the coronavirus pandemic . According to the China Maritime Safety Administration, an area off Tangshan’s coast in the Yellow Sea will be off limits to marine traffic from Thursday until July 31 for military exercises. Tangshan is about 200km (124 miles) east of the capital Beijing. “Non-military vessels and personnel will be prohibited from entering the area designated for the drill,” the administration said in a notice, without saying which vessels could take part. Chinese drill ends with detour through South China Sea for US attention The announcement comes as most of China has lowered its alert for the pandemic, despite sporadic cases in the northeast and Wuhan, where the disease was first detected. According to China’s defence ministry, there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the 2 million members of the People’s Liberation Army , the world’s biggest armed force. But safety concerns over the pandemic prompted the PLA to delay its annual spring recruitment programme until August and switch some training to classroom study of military theory, state news agency Xinhua reported. Some exercises were also postponed and to make up for the lost time the navy has planned 11 weeks of exercises, mainly to test the Shandong, China’s first locally built aircraft carrier, and its accompanying vessels, according to a military source with direct knowledge of the matter. “The scheduled training of the Chinese military has been delayed by about three months, and now after the pandemic has eased to some extent, the PLA is getting back on track with exercises,” the source said. “And in the future, China will conduct more large-scale drills to improve internal coordination and to boost combat capacity.” Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said the longer duration of the drill showed that it would involve many training elements. “It’s quite a long military exercise, and it means that it is reasonably comprehensive. Given the location of the drill, the navy will be able to put its air defence, anti-missile and assault-landing skills to the test,” Song said. Taiwan’s Tsai may offer olive branch, but Beijing has ‘no expectations’ The Tangshan exercise will start less than a week before Tsai Ing-wen begins her second term as president of Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing has pledged to unify with the mainland, by force if necessary.