Chinese Navy Practices for "Sudden, Cruel" Conflict

Published Aug 2, 2016 8:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, the Chinese navy held a massive live-fire drill in the East China Sea, mobilizing 300 vessels plus aircraft and coastal units of the People's Liberation Army. 

“The drill is aimed at honing the assault intensity, precision, stability and speed of troops amid heavy electromagnetic influences,” said the Chinese navy via state-owned media. 

“An information technology-based war at sea is sudden, cruel and short, which requires a fast transition to combat status, quick preparation and high assault efficiency," the statement continued.

The navy added that it was a routine exercise, not directed at any nation. 

The drill involved all three of the Chinese navy's fleets, divided into two teams. One posed as attacker, the other as defense, and they ran through a series of combat scenarios and live-fire exercises. 

A joint drill with Russian forces is planned for the South China Sea in September. 

China's rhetoric regarding regional maritime tensions has escalated in the weeks following a decision from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which found that China's broad claims to the South China Sea are not justified under UNCLOS. Beijing has described that ruling as "waste paper" and has vowed to disregard it.

Some sources within the military suggest that hardliners are prepared for a confrontation over China's claims.

"The People's Liberation Army is ready," one source with ties to the military told Reuters last week. "We should go in and give them a bloody nose like Deng Xiaoping did to Vietnam in 1979," referring to China's brief invasion of Vietnam.

"The Chinese military will step up and fight hard and China will never submit to any country on matters of sovereignty," Liang Fang, a professor at the military-run National Defence University, wrote in an online post.

Despite the rumblings within the People's Liberation Army, civilian leadership in Beijing has expressed a strong desire to pursue dialogue and to "turn the page" on the court's ruling.