The Chinese navy has begun a comprehensive combat drill in the South China Sea involving its most advanced warships amid rising tensions with the United States over the disputed waters.
A naval group of two destroyers, two frigates, and a supply ship left Sanya, Hainan province, on Wednesday for drills analysts said were aimed at boosting combat readiness. Another destroyer will join them soon.
Each ship is carrying three helicopters and dozens of special forces troops and will sail to the South China Sea, the east Indian Ocean and the west Pacific, according to state-run CCTV.
Tensions in the South China Sea have been rising, with rival claimant the Philippines filing an arbitration case against China in the Hague. A decision on the case, which China said it will not recognize, is due by the end of June at the latest.