The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will hold large-scale, live-fire exercises in the Yellow Sea from September 22 – 26 which marks a major step-up in military drills this year.
In recent months, the PLA has exercised in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Taiwan Straits. The Yellow Sea is an area close to the two Koreas and Japan and plays host to major US military activity often in collaboration with the South Korean and Japanese military.
Chinese military experts quoted in Global Times newspaper said that the drills could feature anti-ship, air defense and anti-submarine exercises “to prepare for possible military conflicts with the US, which has been frequently sending bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and warships near China.”
Issued by PLA Unit 91208 and local maritime authorities on Friday, a navigation restriction notice said that the drills will be held in a vast region of waters east of Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, and Lianyungang, East China's Jiangsu Province, with other ships prohibited from entering the designated areas.
According to the Qingdao government, PLA Unit 91208 is attached to the Navy, and similar drills in the area have taken place multiple times in the past, including in September 2016, July 2017 and August 2017.
The drills could be joint exercises that feature multiple military branches based in different regions of the country, a frequently quoted military expert, Song told Global Times. “These exercises could be linked to the recent consecutive, realistic drills in the Taiwan Straits.”
China has increased preparedness after the US Pacific Command sent four B-1 and two B-2 bombers in simultaneous missions on Tuesday in the Sea of Japan and Indian Ocean, with some aircraft coordinating with the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group near Japan at one point, US military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported on Wednesday.
“If a military conflict breaks out, it will likely not be restricted to one sea region, but interconnected,” Song stressed.