SOUTH CHINA SEA WATCH: China starts drills, showcases isles


China’s navy has launched annual war drills in the South China Sea with one of its most advanced warships, the missile destroyer Hefei.

The exercises include simulations for breaking an enemy blockade and reconnaissance drills with submarine forces. Five other guided-missile destroyers, a frigate and a supply ship of the South Sea Fleet based in Sanya on Hainan Island, home to a major naval and air force base, are taking part.

According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the ships will be joined by forces based in the Spratly and Paracel islands, where China has embarked on massive island-building to expand and reinforce the reefs it controls in the disputed region.

Also last week, China sent famed singer of patriotic anthems Song Zuying on a tour of its man-made islands in the Spratlys to entertain troops and underscore confidence in asserting its claim in the contested area.

Among the songs performed: “Ode to the South Sea Defenders,” whose lyrics speak of “troops of stout men with guns in their hands who battle the wind and fight the waves to guard the nation’s door.”

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