China demonstrated missile-firing fighter aircraft in the South China Sea on Thursday while conducting military drills in the contested waters alongside the United States. The United States and China conduct rival exercises in the contested South China Sea.
The exercises are conducted in the wake of tense standoffs between Beijing and Manila over disputed reefs, during which Chinese ships fired water cannons at Philippine vessels and vessels from both nations collided.
China warned its neighbor to exercise “caution” in response to the Philippines’ unanticipatedly audacious tactics, which sparked mounting frustration and ire in China last month.
Additionally, state broadcaster CCTV and the Chinese military released footage on Thursday depicting “live-fire drills” occurring at sea. A video shared by the Southern Theatre Command of the Chinese military depicted aircraft taking off and launching missiles that struck their intended targets.
The military and state media declined to specify when the footage was captured, stating only that it occurred recently. However, its publication occurred one day after China declared that its air force and navy would be stationed in the South China Sea between Wednesday and Thursday.
The maneuvers occurred concurrently with a two-day exercise in the contested waters conducted by the United States and the Philippines. This exercise featured an aircraft carrier strike group under the leadership of the USS Carl Vinson.
The United States stated that “our ability to coordinate on maritime domain awareness and other shared security interests” would be improved by the drills.