Analysts have slammed the "groundless" and "exaggerated" allegations made by countries and media outlets who have claimed that China's ongoing military drill in the South China Sea is worsening regional tensions.
China's 10-day-long military training exercise, held east of South China's Hainan Province in the South China Sea, concludes on July 31 and another eight-day military training exercise will kick off in the Bohai and Yellow seas on July 31, a day before China's Army Day.
Vietnamese authorities have urged China to stop the drill as it "violates the country's sovereignty," according to a report published in the US-based Diplomat magazine on Monday.
The Philippine government also said that they are monitoring China's military drill, Philippine media website abs-cbnnews.com reported on Wednesday.
"Such reactions from Vietnam and the Philippines are groundless and they constitute a double-standard," Zhang Junshe, a naval captain and research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, told the Global Times. "These countries also conduct military drills in the South China Sea with the US, which are more frequent and larger than China's."
The Philippine and U.S. militaries held one of their largest joint drills ever in April in the South China Sea, which involved some 5,000 Philippine troops and 6,500 U.S. soldiers.
Zhang added that China's military exercise has focused on defense rather than offense, which demonstrates China is trying to maintain the stability of the region. However, the joint military drills of the US and the Philippines often simulate battles with China and include island capture exercises, he said. "Such drills are more aggressive and threaten regional peace."
More than 100 Chinese naval vessels and dozens of military aircraft conducted live-fire maneuvers in the South China Sea on Tuesday.
According to a naval officer, the drill, covering the largest area ever, has aimed to enhance the PLA's capabilities in IT-based warfare. Reconnaissance, anti-reconnaissance, interference and anti-interference both on the sea and in the air were designed to be more difficult than ever in this exercise.
The Ministry of National Defense (MOD) stated on July 22 that the drills are regular military exercises scheduled in the military's annual plan, without targeting any other country.
"China's drill is legal and rightful. The overreaction of foreign countries shows that they want to provoke troubles in the South China Sea and are attempting to harm China's interests," a military expert, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times.
The MOD said that the U.S. has militarized the South China Sea by staging patrols and joint military drills in the region.
The U.S. was hyping up the "China threat" and attempting to sow discord between China and other South China Sea claimant countries, ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a news briefing.
"China is extremely concerned at the United States' drive to militarize the South China Sea region," he said. "What they are doing can't help but make people wonder whether they want nothing more than chaos."
Military experts said that China's drills completely follow their schedule and are normal. "The drills also demonstrate that China has the confidence to defend its territory and citizens if any unexpected incidents occur in the region," Zhang said.