China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) will conduct a live-fire military drill in the East China Sea from Wednesday to Monday in an area that is similar in size to the island of Taiwan, a move analysts believe will send a strong warning to Taiwan separatists.
The six-day exercise will start on Wednesday at 8:00 am and is due to end at 6:00 pm on July 23. Unrelated vessels are prohibited from entering the designated live-fire drill area and must follow the guidance of guard ships to ensure safety, reads a notice released by Zhejiang Maritime Safety Administration on Monday.
According to the coordinates provided by the administration, the drill zone spans from sea areas close to east of Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang Province to sea areas east of Wenzhou, also in Zhejiang Province. The drill zone has a similar size to the island of Taiwan.
The drill is designed to warn the "Taiwan independence" forces, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"The drill's main objective is to send a serious warning to Taiwan separatists," Song said.
The East China Sea will be a main battlefield if war takes place in the future, as it is key to solving the Taiwan question and other disputed island issues, a military expert, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
If the drill zone were to be pushed forward, it would basically cover the entire island of Taiwan, the expert noted.
"The PLA Air Force and Navy have been frequently conducting island encirclement exercises. The drill this time will add up and form a military deterrence of high pressure against the Taiwan separatists," according to Song.
Considering duration and size of the drill zone, the exercise is a large-scale one that requires more troops and weapons, the anonymous expert said, adding that the drill will test the PLA's systematic combat capability, tactics, training methods and capacities of its weaponry and equipment.
The drill will be a joint operation with high complexity in a bid to simulate real combat. The PLA's capability to quickly carry out combat missions will be improved, said Song.