China navy to stage drill in western Pacific

Posted at 06/14/12 5:07 AM

BEIJING - China will conduct an annual naval training drill in the western Pacific, state media reported on Wednesday, amid concerns among Beijing's neighbours about its military ambitions.

The exercise is "not aimed at any specific country or target", the defence ministry said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

"China hopes all relevant sides will respect China's maritime rights, such as freedom of navigation."

The ministry did not give further information about the location of the drill, when it would be held or which ships would participate.

China is involved in a number of simmering marine territorial disputes with its neighbours and is locked in a prolonged stand-off with the Philippines over a shoal in the South China Sea.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighbouring countries. The Philippines and Vietnam have in recent years accused China of becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claim.

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