China objects to joint naval exercise in Yellow Sea

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China objects to joint naval exercise in Yellow Sea

BEIJING - China voiced its clearest opposition yet on Thursday to naval exercises that Korea and the United States plan to conduct in the Yellow Sea in reaction to the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press briefing that China “resolutely opposes” foreign warships and military aircraft coming close to Chinese waters and conducting activities that affect Chinese security interests.

“We hope relevant countries will maintain calm and restraint and refrain from acts that intensify tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the region,” the spokesman said.

Korea and the U.S. are planning massive anti-submarine exercises in waters off the peninsula’s west coast in a show of force against North Korea in the wake of the regime’s alleged sinking of the warship Cheonan.

Officials in Seoul have said the drills will be purely defensive and aimed at warning the North against provocations. But China has expressed complaints about the exercises, which are expected to involve an aircraft carrier, an Aegis-equipped destroyer, a nuclear submarine and fighter jets.

“The exercises are a matter that is being discussed as part of a response to the Cheonan’s sinking and in the context of the Korea-U.S. alliance,” Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun said Thursday. “We will make our own independent judgment and take steps based on that.”

Privately, some officials in Seoul have expressed displeasure over China’s move, saying it is South Korea’s sovereign right to determine whether to hold exercises in its own waters.

Seoul and Washington have not yet announced when they will hold the exercises.

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