With tensions rising between China, Vietnam, and the Philippines over overlapping territorial claims comes the news that China has held military drills in the disputed South China Sea. State media reports that some 14 boats and a pair of military aircraft participated in three days and nights of exercises meant to strengthen anti-submarine and island defense skills in case of unexpected trouble. The action follows live-firing naval exercises by Vietnam on Monday, a move that follows that country's accusations that Chinese boats were disrupting oil and gas exploration in its waters, reports the AP.
A graphic in the People's Daily newspaper suggested China's exercises took place near the Spratly Islands, which house Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and Filipino garrisons. China’s official military newspaper also recently reported the placement of amphibious vehicles on a South China Sea island; the vehicles were probably tanks, notes the AP. China claims the entire sea and all its island groups, but maintains garrisons on only a few atolls, islets, and partially submerged corral reefs.