The People's Liberation Army Navy will carry out combat exercises in the South China Sea in the coming days, the Navy said on Friday.
According to the Navy's staff department, the training is a routine part of the Navy's annual training plan and is intended to boost the troops' training and hone their combat capability. It is not aimed at any specific country or target, the department said in a statement, without elaborating.
The announcement came two days after defense authorities in Taiwan reported that the PLA Navy's CNS Liaoning aircraft carrier and CNS Hulun Lake replenishment ship sailed through the Taiwan Straits earlier this week. The move has yet to be confirmed by the Navy.
A researcher close to the PLA Navy who wished not to be named told China Daily that it is possible the Liaoning carrier battle group will take part in the coming exercises in the South China Sea to verify its operational capabilities after recent training.
The coming exercises will be the first such operations by the Navy in the South China Sea in 2018, according to available information.
In February, a three-vessel flotilla headed by the CNS Changsha guided-missile destroyer performed combat drills in the Indian and western Pacific oceans.
Earlier this month, two PLA Marine Corps forces, totaling more than 10,000 troops, traveled about 2,000 kilometers in a mobility exercise, which was said by military observers to be the largest-ever maneuver by the Marine Corps.
The Chinese military has been paying great attention to combat drills and joint operations since President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, took office.
As a result, all of the Navy's combat vessels now spend about eight months each year on the sea, carrying out patrols, drills and training operations, much longer than before, according to the Navy.