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China holds biggest ever military drill in SCS amid Xi's presence

Forty-eight warships, 76 aircraft and more than 10,000 sailors and soldiers took part in the drill which was hailed as "the biggest maritime military parade since the foundation of the new China"

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

south china sea
Xi attends Chinese naval parade in South China Sea. Photo: Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China

The on Thursday held its largest ever maritime drill in the disputed South Sea during which it displayed for the first time the country's strike group and the most advanced weaponry of the People's (PLA).

Xi Jinping, also the of the ruling Communist Party of Central Committee and of the (CMC), reviewed the drill and addressed the sailors, reported.

CMC is the overall high command of the 2-million strong

Forty-eight warships, 76 aircraft and more than 10,000 sailors and soldiers took part in the drill which was hailed as "the biggest maritime military parade since the foundation of the new and a heroic display of the in the new era," reported today.

The drill was held amid frequent forays made by US naval and aircraft into the South Sea to assert the freedom of navigation especially around the artificial islands built by China, where it has also established garrisons.

claims almost all of the South Sea. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and have counterclaims over the area.

It was the first maritime military parade held in the South Sea and to be open to the public, state-run reported.

The PLA's previous four maritime parades were held in Beihai. China's aircraft carrier, joined the parade for the first time.

All of the and 10 air echelons joined the parade.

"The most advanced weaponry, including the Liaoning, type 052D destroyers, type 052C destroyers, type 071 amphibious transport dock and type 093 submarine all appeared on the South Sea," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told

The parade showcased the PLA's group and its enhanced combat capability in the high seas, Song said, adding that China's upgraded navy signifies the PLA is not afraid of war and is capable of winning any battle.

"China's strength in protecting its national maritime interest has grown. The Thursday parade could also serve as deterrence to maritime hegemony, making adversaries think twice before attempting to harm China's core national interests," Song said.

Holding the parade in the South Sea was a strategic move as the waters are a potential combat zone, said Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert.

First Published: Thu, April 12 2018. 22:38 IST
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