Tags: Report: | Beijing | Readies | China | Sea | Exercises

Report: Beijing Readies China Sea Exercises

Thursday, 17 May 2001 12:00 AM

"We're seeing preparations," said one defense official. He said it is not known when the maneuvers will begin. A second official said: "There are some indications of amphibious exercise planning by the South Sea Fleet," as China calls its naval forces in the region.

The preparations so far do not appear threatening or even worrisome, the newspaper quoted some defense officials as saying.

Defense officials said preparations for the exercises, including amphibious warfare drills, were detected by U.S. intelligence agencies over the past two weeks.

Woody Island, the main island of the disputed Paracel island chain south of Hainan, is close to the area where the U.S. Navy EP-3E surveillance plane collided with a Chinese F-8 interceptor on April 1.

Military exercises have been carried out in the past on Woody Island. It is viewed by Pentagon analysts as the key strategic base for future power projection.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military with the Jamestown Foundation, told The Times he believes the upcoming Chinese exercises are linked to the recent surveillance aircraft incident.

"First and foremost, this would be a response to the recent incident," said Mr. Fisher, a former aide to Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican.

Preparations for the Chinese war games coincide with the start of a major U.S. military exercise in Thailand known as Cobra Gold.

The U.S.-Thai-Singapore military exercise began Tuesday and will continue through May 29.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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We're seeing preparations, said one defense official. He said it is not known when the maneuvers will begin. A second official said: There are some indications of amphibious exercise planning by the South Sea Fleet, as China calls its naval forces in the region. The...
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Thursday, 17 May 2001 12:00 AM
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