The Southern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently conducted live-fire shooting exercises in waters in proximity to Hainan Province, according to a recent annual training report, and were not aimed at a specific target or country, China's Ministry of National Defense told the Global Times on Friday.
Foreign reports on the PLA naval drills ran contrary to facts, the ministry said.
The ministry released a statement in response to exaggerated reports from Western media outlets and aimed at countries including the US and Australia, stating they were "concerned."
One expert who agreed to speak under anonymity told the Global Times late Friday that the brief response from the defense ministry specified the naval drills were conducted near Hainan Island, meaning they were not held in waters near disputed island territory in the South China Sea,
The anonymous source also said it was unnecessary for any country to be alarmed as the drills were part of an annual training session.
"Live-fire" and "shooting exercises" are terms commonly used by the military, and were not meant to "intimidate" South China Sea claimants, the source also said.
An Australian Defense Department spokesperson said, "Australia is concerned at actions by any claimant that could raise tensions in the South China Sea," ABC News reported.
The US reported a series of anti-ship ballistic missile tests in the same water region, and quoted Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn who said the tests were "coercive acts meant to intimidate other South China Sea claimants."
The PLA was scheduled to conduct military exercises in the South China Sea from June 29 to July 3, according to the Sansha maritime affairs bureau.