The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's South China Sea Fleet on Sunday completed a 25-day training exercise in the open seas, which experts said shows the peaceful development path of the Chinese navy.
The fleet arrived at a military harbor in Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong Province after an 8,000-nautical mile voyage through the South China Sea, eastern Indian Ocean and western Pacific, the PLA Daily reported.
The training exercise is part of the navy's annual plan and conforms with international law and practices, the report noted.
The report said the fleet includes Changsha, a Type 052D destroyer, Jinggangshan, a Type 071 amphibious transport dock, Hengyang, a Type 054A frigate and comprehensive supply ship Luomahu.
The training simulates actual combat. The fleet completed more than 20 exercises such as joint air defense, air-sea joint attacks and deep strikes on land, which all tested the combat capability of the navy and helped to explore new training methods.
The training showed that the PLA Navy South China Sea Fleet has improved its capability and enlarged its active range, Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times on Monday.
The message the fleet sent to the US, Japan and India through the training is that China is capable of maintaining sea security and can break through all types of strategic blockades, Chen said.
According to the Beijing-based nanhainet.cn, tasks such as confronting pirates, inspecting suspected vessels and rescue work have become important to the Chinese navy.
"The Chinese navy is taking on more functions, which is part of its development path, as it is the duty of big countries to take on the tasks to maintain regional peace and stability," Chen said.
"The Western media tends to be biased against any Chinese naval activity in the South China Sea and other regions, calling it China's expansion ambition." However, the Chinese navy's activities are legitimate and show China's peaceful development path, Chen noted.