Chinese flotilla heads to Indonesia for joint drills
BEIJING – Chinese ships left the port of Qingdao on Saturday to take part in naval exercises off the coast of Indonesia, China’s Ministry of Defence said, a week after a dispute between the two countries over contested waters in the South China Sea.
In a notice posted on its website (www.mod.gov.cn), the ministry said the Chinese navy flotilla will hold joint blue-water training and conduct disaster relief exercises with 16 nations, including Indonesia, the United States and Russia.
The exercises, run by the Indonesian navy, will begin at Padang and nearby islands on April 12.
Last week, Indonesia attempted to detain a Chinese trawler it accused of fishing in its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, prompting the Chinese coastguard to intervene.
Tensions have been rising in the South China Sea as China continues to reclaim land and stake claims over vast swathes of an important shipping corridor. Several Southeast Asian countries have overlapping claims in the area, including Vietnam.
The ministry said in a separate notice that Defence Minister Chang Wanquan was due to visit Vietnam on Saturday to participate in high-level talks. –Reuters