Beijing: Amid deepening maritime disputes with some of its neighbours, Chinese navy on Thursday said it would conduct 40 military exercises this year to test its combat readiness.
The Naval wing of the People`s Liberation Army (PLA) would conduct 40 drills this year, including some joint exercises with various countries, to beef up its operational preparedness to guard its maritime borders and national interests, state-run CCTV reported.
The PLA navy is expanding at a rapid pace, having recently acquired its first aircraft carrier `Liaoning` and deploying new carrier-based fighter jets.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has been stressing operational preparedness of the armed forces ever since he took over as the military chief in November last year.
The announcement about the exercises comes amid stepped up marine patrols by China, to assert its claims over the disputed Senkaku islands, currently under Japanese control, along with making its presence felt in the South China Sea, where Beijing has confronted the Philippines in waters around Scarborough Shoal.
China will send troops to take part in the `ASEAN+8 joint drill`, to be held in Brunei in June, in which Indian navy is also scheduled to take part.
The joint drill will be held by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and eight partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, the Republic of Korea and the United States), defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a press conference.
In April 2011, the first experts` working group meeting on humanitarian rescue and disaster relief under ADMM-Plus, co-chaired by China and Vietnam, made a three-year plan that includes the joint drill, he said.