China stages maritime exercise in South China Sea as US nuclear carrier sails by

President Xi Jinping on Thursday reviewed a massive drill by more than 100 Chinese Navy vessels in the South China Sea, which was launched as the US carried out what it described as a “routine” training exercise in nearby waters.

In a rare event, Xi boarded the destroyer Changsha and reviewed a fleet that included 76 combat ships and China’s lone aircraft carrier. He called on People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commanders to build a “world class navy” that would be ready as the country steps into a “new era”.

Xi said the navy has a big role to play in China’s rejuvenation, adding that the “task of building a strong people’s navy has never been as urgent as today”.

The three-day drill was launched in the South China Sea on Wednesday and features what the state media described as a “vast armada of ships”, including the aircraft carrier, submarines and combat ships.

The large-scale exercise reflects China’s growing maritime might as its naval exercises reach across seas, including the Indian Ocean. The Chinese Navy’s warships now spend longer periods at sea and the fleet is said to be rapidly adding combat ships. The first home-grown aircraft carrier is expected to be deployed later this year.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, conducted a training exercise earlier this week in the South China Sea, where China is locked in maritime territorial disputes with a number of countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. The US vessel was on its ....

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