The Chinese navy conducted combat drills near its southern island province of Hainan and the Paracel islands in the South China Sea, the Ministry of Defense said on Saturday.
The drills come ahead of a July 12 ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration on a case brought by the Philippines disputing several of China’s territory claims in the South China Sea.
Ships from China’s northern, eastern and southern fleets participated in Friday’s drills, which focused on air control, surface operations and anti-submarine warfare, among other training exercises, the ministry said in a website statement.
China claims nearly all the South China Sea, but its claims overlap in part with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.China has repeatedly said it does not consider any decision reached by the arbitration court to be legally binding.
“This has always been China’s policy, and it will never change.”