China reiterates determination to defend sovereignty claims


China has reiterated its commitment to defending its sovereignty amid new tensions over its territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Defense minister Chang Wanquan told a reception on Sunday that China would firmly safeguard its “state sovereignty, national security and development interests.”

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“Territorial integrity and maritime rights and interests will be defended,” Chang was cited as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

However, Chang also said China’s military is “destined not to fear war, but will definitely cherish peace.” China has not fought in a major confrontation since its 1979 invasion of Vietnam that ended in a stalemate.

Chang’s remarks follow a heightening of tensions in the region after a U.N. arbitration panel ruled July 12 that Beijing’s claim to most of the South China Sea has no legal basis. Beijing rejected the decision in the case, which was brought by the Philippines, and said it would have no effect on its moves to increase its military and civilian footprint in the crucial water body.

Chang was speaking ahead of Monday’s Army Day, which marks the 89th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, which has been vastly increasing its firepower and technology in recent years. The PLA is a chief driver behind the construction of man-made islands in the South China Sea built by piling sand on top of coral reefs, and is firmly in alignment with President Xi Jinping’s more muscular foreign policy.


China, Russia to hold joint exercises in South China Sea

China’s military said it would hold joint exercises with Russian forces in the South China Sea sometime in September.

The exercises were aimed at deepening relations between the two militaries and boosting their capacity to respond to maritime threats, ministry spokesman Col. Yang Yujun said at a monthly news briefing.

Yang said the exercises weren’t targeted at any third parties. He didn’t disclose the specific location, and some areas of the South China Sea are not disputed.