Beijing Announces New Naval Drills Amid Ukraine Conflict

The Hainan Maritime Safety Administration of China announced the establishment of a no-go zone for military drills in the South China Sea between Hainan and Vietnam, warning shipping to stay away, amid the Ukraine conflict.

The Chinese government said on Friday, the drills would start from the same day and last until March 15.

Vietnam has urged China to respect its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and continental shelf after Beijing announced drills in the East Sea.

“We ask China to respect Vietnam’s sovereignty and not take actions to complicate the situation, thereby contributing to maintaining peace, security, and stability in the East Sea area,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said on Monday.

Tensions in the East Sea area have continued to rise in the context of China’s naval expansion and the establishment of military outposts on illegally built artificial islands.

Meanwhile, Beijing announced on Saturday that China’s military budget, the second-largest in the world after the United States, is set to increase by 7.1 percent in 2022, about $230 billion for its national defense based on a government budget report.

Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing would “enhance military training and combat readiness, stay firm and flexible in carrying out military struggle, and safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Beijing has poured billions of dollars into defense modernization in recent years as it aims to transform its huge military into a world-class force rivaling that of the United States and other Western powers.

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