Chinese destroyers Wuhan and Haikou and amphibious landing craft Changbaishan carried out simulated combat drills
Chinese warships patrolled the Sunda Strait – between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra – in February, the first time China’s navy has steamed through these waters.
The flotilla was en route to the Indian Ocean, where they held military exercises, before returning via the Lombok Strait near Bali and through the Makassar Strait off Borneo.
Analysts commented that by sending ships through the region in such a way, Beijing is making it clear that it now considers the Indian Ocean a strategic priority.
China was quick to assure countries that their intentions were not provocative. China’s Defence Ministry said the exercises were “not aimed at any countries” and had “nothing to do with the regional situation.”
The ministry also said “China has the lawful right to sail freely” in international waters and that this was “normal training” as part of an annual plan.