Beijing: In a move that could escalate
tensions in the surcharged Korean peninsula, China said its
military forces would kick-off live ammunition exercises in
East China Sea from tomorrow in an apparent response to a
joint naval manoeuvres between US and South Korea.
"The People`s Liberation Army (PLA) of China will launch
a six-day, live ammunition drill starting on Wednesday in the
East China Sea, a move that analysts said is in response to a
joint exercise between the United States and Republic of Korea
(ROK) navies in the Yellow Sea," state run China Daily said
East China Sea is off the coast of one of China`s main
cities Shanghai facing the Korean peninsula and Japan.
The PLA decision was taken on June 24 and released to the
media ahead of the commencement of planned exercises by US and
South Korea yesterday, the Daily said.
But the South Korean navy has already announced that its
joint exercises with US have been postponed to July, it said.
According to the PLA announcement, all vessels will be
prohibited from entering its designated exercise area from
midnight to 6 pm, from June 30 to July 5.
"They must follow orders of the Chinese navy to ensure
safety," it said.
An officer of the Ministry of Defence said the PLA`s
planned drill is routine.
But some analysts said it was rare that China publicise
its military exercises days in advance.
The exercises were announced as US-South Korea geared up
to conduct their exercises in the aftermath of the drowning of
South Korean naval vessel allegedly by North Korea few months
Pyongyang denied its involvement, but an international
panel that investigated the incident pointed to a North Korean
torpedo being responsible for the sinking of the vessel in
which 42 sailors were killed.
The move by China regarded as close ally of Democratic
People`s Republic of Korea (DPRK-North Korea) seen as an
attempt to flex its muscles to stave off any military action
Meanwhile as the pressure mounted North Korea yesterday
vowed to strengthen its nuclear weaponry "in a newly developed
way" to cope with persistent US hostility and its military
threat which was interpreted by many western analysts as a
warning that it may have developed a more powerful hydrogen