China closes off big chunk of ocean for military drills

Wednesday, 26 July 2017, 04:49:00 PM. The Chinese navy is closing off a large portion of the Yellow Sea for two days of large-scale military activities beginning Thursday, according to a state-run newspaper.

Hong Kong (CNN)The Chinese navy is closing off a large portion of the Yellow Sea for two days of large-scale military activities beginning Thursday, according to a state-run newspaper.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced that ships will be forbidden from entering a 40,000-square-kilometer (15,444-square-mile) block of ocean off the coastal city of Qingdao, according to the Weihai Evening Post newspaper, which is run by the Weihai city government.The paper's report was repeated by the state-sanctioned Global Times.The move comes just days before the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA, which will be celebrated on August 1. Beijing is expected to mark the date with some sort of celebration, though it has not announced its plans yet.

Read MoreBut the month leading up to the occasion has been busy for the PLA. A Chinese naval flotilla sailed to Europe to join Russian forces for war games in the Baltic Sea that began last week. Before that, Beijing deployed troops to its first-ever permanent overseas military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. In late June, the PLA navy launched its most-advanced destroyer ever.And the country is currently involved in a border standoff with India and Bhutan.Though the summer is usually a busy time when it comes to Chinese military drills, the global nature of the PLA's operations is indicative of Beijing's hope to develop a so-called "blue water navy" that can operate across the planet."China's blue-water navy is in the development stage," said an editorial in China's Global Times, a provocative but state-sanctioned tabloid that often takes hawkish foreign policy positions.The piece was written largely in response to a claim by the United States military that a Chinese fighter jet recently performed an "unsafe" intercept of an American plane, but stressed the need for Beijing to strengthen its navy to get on equal footing with the US."If Chinese warships can always catch attention from US allies, when US naval vessels stir up troubles in the South China Sea again, Chinese society can react more confidently. The US doesn't respect restraints and rationality, but strength and strong will. Therefore, perhaps it is time for China to change the way it responds, and starts making some troubles for the US," the editorial said.Meanwhile, the PLA posted on its official website an opinion article by the state-run Xinhua news agency saying that foreign powers should "take a chill pill" when it comes to Chinese naval drills like the one currently running in the Baltic."It is surely time for hotheads in the West to simmer down and take a chill pill on the China-Russia maneuvers, to recognize them for what they are -- a routine exercise similar to the many carried out by navies from across the world," the Xinhua article said.Follow Joshua Berlinger on Twitter

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