The Chinese government has issued a navigation alert due to scheduled military drills in sections of the South China Sea.
The Guangdong Maritime Safety Administration stated that the warning would be in effect on September 28 from 6am (22:00 GMT) to 11:30am (03:30 GMT) and from 6pm (10:00 GMT) to 9:30pm (13:30 GMT).
“Military exercises are going to be conducted in certain waters of the South China Sea, and navigation will be prohibited,” state television CCTV reported. The site of the exercises was not specified.
Under its contentious nine-dash line, China claims practically the entire South China Sea.
Tensions have grown in recent months with the Philippines, who’s claims overlap with China’s, over the Second Tom Shoal and the Scarborough Shoal.
Both are located within Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as generally extending 200 nautical miles (approximately 370 kilometers) from shore and in which the coastal state has the sole authority to explore and exploit.
The Philippines coastguard removed a 300-meter-long floating barrier constructed by China earlier this week, which it claimed was preventing fishing vessels from reaching Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from Manila after an months-long confrontation in 2012.
The Chinese coastguard contradicted that version of events late Wednesday, stating the barrier was erected on Friday after a Philippine ship entered the region “illegally” and was removed the next day.
“I’d also like to emphasize one again. “Huanyan Island is China’s inherent territory,” Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, asserted at a routine news briefing, referring to Scarborough Shoal by its Chinese name. It is known as Bajo de Masinloc in Manila.
The rocky outcrop is a popular fishing location and has been a source of dispute for many years.
Both countries claim control over the shoal, which is located approximately 120 nautical miles (222 kilometers) from the Philippine island of Luzon and 594 nautical miles (1,000 kilometers) from China’s southern island of Hainan. Since the 2012 standoff, China has kept a coast guard force there.
Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam have also claimed areas of the water near their coasts and have reported incidences of Chinese ship harassment.
Separately, China’s official media said early Thursday that several aircraft from the Southern Theatre Air Force, which oversees the South China Sea, conducted night-time operations on Wednesday.