China has been conducting military exercises for more than a week in the South China Sea, between its southern province of Hainan and Vietnam. Due to the exercise, the country’s authorities have instructed all ships to avoid the area.
China has long claimed a large part of this disputed waterway. This waterway is considered as one of the navigable routes for ships of different countries. The country has built a number of artificial islands and airfields in these waters, which is of concern to other countries in the region and especially to the United States.
Meanwhile, the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration said in a statement on Friday (March 4th) that the military exercise would run from March 4 to March 15. The exercise area is located along a line between Sania, Hainan, and the Vietnamese city of Hue. Incidentally, Sania is one of the major naval bases in China.
Vietnam, meanwhile, has criticized China for calling such exercises “violations of its sovereignty.” Because parts of that exercise area fall within the 200-nautical-mile economic zone of Vietnam.
However, the Chinese Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and neither did the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry.
Tensions between Vietnam and China peaked in decades in 2014 when a Chinese oil rig began drilling in Vietnam’s maritime area. The incident sparked a series of chases in both countries’ waters and sparked anti-China riots in Vietnam.