Chinese military conducts 'sudden attack' drills near North Korea
An anti-aircraft defense battalion of the Chinese air force conducted an exercise close to the Korean peninsula on Tuesday. In the drill which simulated a real battle scenario, the Chinese unit intercepted missiles launched as a "sudden attack" over the waters near North Korea. The drill comes amid heightened regional tensions in the aftermath of the North's sixth nuclear weapons test.
"The troops' rapid response capabilities and actual combat levels have effectively been tested," the Chinese military said. The drills "do not target any particular goal or country," the Chinese military said. The participating troops were given challenges to complete orders amid unexpected events, such as protecting themselves from chemical attacks. No details were given about which anti-missile system was used in the drill.
In a bid to rapidly de-escalate regional tensions, China earlier proposed a "double suspension" approach. Under this, North Korea would suspend its nuclear and missile tests if the US and South Korea would halt their large-scale exercises. This was rejected by the US.
Besides China, South Korea too is preparing for any potential conflict in the region. The South has conducted a series of military drills in recent days. It is also planning to increase the deployment of the US-developed THAAD anti-missile defense system to counter Pyongyang's ballistic missiles. This has angered China as the THAAD possesses powerful radars capable of tracking Chinese military assets.
Tensions in the Korean peninsula have been simmering. There's been talk of attack and war by Pyongyang and, the US and its allies. Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests have angered China. At the same time, it remains concerned about the US' growing military presence in the region. An all-out conflict remains unlikely. However, as the recent drills indicate, China wants to be prepared.