China has said it will carry out naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean, after last week’s announcement by President Obama that 2,500 US marines will be stationed in Australia.
The Chinese Defence Ministry said in a statement the exercises were ‘routine’ and not targeted at a specific country.
"This is an annual, planned, routine drill. It is not directed at any specific country or target and is in keeping with relevant international laws and practices," said the statement.
"China's freedom of navigation and other legal rights should not be obstructed."
A spokesman for the Pentagon has said the US had no problem with China’s exercise and it was ‘entitled to exercise their military in ways they deem fit’.
Tensions have been high in the South China Sea, with several countries, including China, Vietnam and the Philippines, claiming marine territory.
The South China Sea is thought to hold vast amounts of natural resources and is of strategic importance to the countries on its shores.
See previous articles:
China concern at US task force in Australia (16 Nov 2011)
Sri Lanka signs oil deal with Vietnam (15 Oct 2011)