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China announces military exercises closes one off part of South China Sea

Days after an international tribunal ruled against Beijing’s claim to ownership of virtually the entire South China Sea (SCS), Beijing on Monday said that it is closing off a part of the SCS for military exercises this week, reported AP.

According to report, Hainan’s maritime administration said an area southeast of the island province would be closed from Monday to Thursday, but gave no details about the nature of the exercises. The navy and Defense Ministry had no immediate comment.

Chinese military had on Friday kicked off large scale military exercises pressing troops from the five theatre commands of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) simulating real battle conditions.

The announcement came in the middle of a three-day visit to China by the US Navy’s top admiral to discuss the South China Sea dispute and ways to increase interactions between the two militaries, the report added.

China has refused to recognise the ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague that invalidated its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea and did not take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines.

It has reacted angrily to calls by Western countries and Japan for the decision to be adhered to.

China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually.

China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have rival claims, of which China’s are the largest.

The United States has conducted freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese-held islands, to Beijing’s anger, while China has been bolstering its military presence there.

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