PLA naval formation's training in South China Sea rational, legitimate, lawful

China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2024-05-13 17:59:19

By Guo Yuandan and Liu Xuanzun

A naval training formation under the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command comprised of some main combat warships including the guided-missile destroyers Zunyi, Haikou, Kunming and the guided-missile frigate Xianning embarked on combat training in a certain area in the South China Sea recently. The training primarily revolved around maritime combat, air defense, anti-missile and anti-submarine operations, and other subjects, aiming to evaluate the effectiveness of multiple operational and training techniques. It is publicly revealed that the destroyer Zunyi (hull 107) is the seventh Type 055 10,000 ton-class destroyer of the PLA Navy.

Chinese military expert Fu Qianshao said that the first batch of eight Type 055 10,000 ton-class destroyers had all been commissioned and handed over to the PLA Navy for deployment and these destroyers had attained operational capabilities after several years of training. Another military expert Zhang Junshe stated that the training conducted by the navy under the PLA Southern Theater Command was to improve the command and control capabilities of the formation, and to enhance its integrated combat capability as well as the cooperative engagement capability (CEC) among various forces.

Coincidentally, the US-Philippine Balikatan 2024, or "shoulder to shoulder" joint military exercise was carried out from April 22 to May 10, involving simulated sinking of a target ship, retaking control of islands, and other subjects. Moreover, this year's "shoulder to shoulder" exercise was held beyond the Philippine territorial waters of 12 nautical miles for the first time, which was analyzed to carry strong implications targeting China.

Zhang pointed out that such regular training activities conducted by the PLA Navy in the South China Sea are designed for improving China's ability to safeguard its national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. These activities taking place at the doorstep of China are rational and legitimate and in line with international law. Furthermore, the training activities carried out by the PLA in the South China Sea are completely different in nature from the "shoulder to shoulder" exercise of the US and the Philippines. Whether the simulations of island capturing or targeting and sinking a Chinese-built ship, the "shoulder-to-shoulder" exercise is highly targeted, offensive, and provocative. 

Zhang analyzed that the fact that the Philippines has repeatedly wooed the US and other countries outside the region to hold joint exercises, patrols and other military activities in the South China Sea has accelerated the militarization of the South China Sea and undermined peace and stability in the region. Therefore, the Chinese PLA also needs to enhance military training and combat readiness to ensure preparedness to any situation.

In addition, Zhang Junshe said that as the Philippines' military strength is incomparable to that of the US, the two sides are unable to carry out joint exercises in a true sense, a fact of which they are fully cognizant. The purpose of the Philippines' taking sides and engaging in the so-called joint operations and exercises with the US is to bolster and embolden their provocative actions by relying on the US and other extraterritorial forces. "No matter who it is, the PLA will never yield to external threats and coercion. The Chinese military will firmly safeguard China's national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests," emphasized Zhang.

Editor's note: Originally published on, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

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