Sun, 20 Jun 2021

Beijing [China], May 13 (ANI): China has described the military exercises in southern Japan involving troops and hardware from France, Japan, the United States and Australia as a waste of fuel, adding that the drill had "no impact" on the country.

The week-long air, land and sea exercise named Arc-21 began on Tuesday at the Kirishima training area on the Kyushu peninsula and simulate different scenarios such as defending remote islands and intercepting vessels at sea.

At a press briefing in Beijing on Thursday, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the drills had "no impact" on China.

"Does [anyone think] this joint drill aimed at putting pressure on China would really frighten China?" she said.

"Among these four countries, there are those that have developed a nature of aggression and invasion as we can tell from history," she said.

"This so-called joint drill has no impact at all on China, it only costs them fuel. I hope they will use the time and resources for their own countries, and contribute more to fighting the coronavirus pandemic in their respective countries and the world," she said.

Tokyo has boosted its military alliance with Washington in recent months as its spat with Beijing over rights to the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea has escalated.

Two French naval vessels - the helicopter carrier Tonnerre and the frigate Surcouf - are taking part in the drills, which also involve troops from Japan's Ground Self-Defence Force and US Marines, according to Japan's Ministry of Defence. A single Australian vessel is also taking part.

The drills, which sees troops training in activities such as simulated urban combat, comes months after France reaffirmed its commitment to the Indo-Pacific.

The French fleet is part of an increased presence of European forces in the region, with a German warship due to visit Japan and a UK Royal Navy task force to train there later this year.

Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.

China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system. It claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions. (ANI)

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