According to the notice released by China’s Sanya Maritime Safety Administration on December 28, a military exercise was commenced in waters around Hainan Island at December 29. The exercise is scheduled to finish on 7th January.
“HN0128 SOUTH CHINA SEA MILITARY EXERCISES IN AREA BOUNDED BY THE LINES JOINING 17-33.0N 109-30.0E, 17-33.0N 109-51.0E, 17-58.0N 109-51.0E AND 17-58.0N 109-30.0E FROM 290000UTC DEC 20 TO 070800UTC JAN 21. ENTERING PROHIBITED. HAINAN MSA CHINA.” says in the promulgation of the exercise.
Though China’s second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, recently conducted a series of night exercises for combat readiness, her attendance to the exercise was not confirmed by the officials.
The Chinese base in the Hainan Island is called by the U.S. analysts as “massively improved”. The helicopters reportedly took off from a base at Sanya – the southernmost city on China’s Hainan Island. The USNI said the base is “crucial”, stating it had the ability to “make a difference in the balance of power in the region”.
Chinese forces appear to be improving the base, with satellite images allegedly revealing the construction of a new dry dock.
The South China Sea is a source of tension between the US and China.