BEIJING - China's navy has in recent days carried out more exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday, calling them routine drills.
China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.
"The People's Liberation Army Navy in recent days organized a fleet to go to relevant seas in the South China Sea, by way of the Western Pacific, to carry out exercises," China's Defense Ministry said in a brief statement.
"This action is a routine arrangement made in accordance with this year's naval training plan," it added, without elaborating.
Pictures on social media accounts of Chinese state media have in recent days shown pictures of Chinese navy ships engaged in live-fire exercises in the South China Sea, without saying where exactly they took place.
China periodically announces such exercises in the South China Sea, as it tries to demonstrate it is being transparent about its military deployments.
China has been at odds with the United States of late over the strategic waterway.