China vows it will ‘not lose a single inch’ of ancestors’ lands in warning to rivals

South China Sea: Chinese Air Force carries out training

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Beijing insists it can safeguard Chinese sovereignty and keep the peace at the same time amid simmering tensions. The Chinese Defence Ministry’s Information Bureau said: “We cannot lose a single inch of the lands we inherited from our ancestors and we would not take a single cent of others’ possessions.”

We cannot lose a single inch of the lands we inherited from our ancestors

Chinese Defence Ministry

It continued: “China’s socialist nature, strategic decision-making on the path of peaceful development, independent foreign policy of peace and the Chinese cultural tradition of ‘peace is the most precious’ determine that China will unswervingly pursue a defensive national defence policy and insist on never seeking hegemony.

“Never expanding and never seeking spheres of influence are the distinctive features of China’s national defence in the new era.”

The Defence Ministry’s Information Bureau insisted the country’s leadership has “never proactively provoked a war, and we have never invaded an inch of land in other countries” since the establishment of the People’s Republic by the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.

The statement echoed comments made by Chinese President Xi Jinping to US officials who visited Beijing in June 2018.

But tensions between the world’s two largest economies have worsened since then as a rift caused by their rival geopolitical views in areas such as Taiwan and the East and South China Seas continued to deepen.

Last Wednesday, the US Navy sent the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur across the Taiwan Strait to demonstrate “the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

China accused the US of conducting destabilising moves in the region.

Joe Biden’s new US administration has also rejected China’s claims to the South China Sea and contested land formations such as the Spratlys and Paracel Islands.

The US has conducted “freedom of navigation” operations in the area, sometimes joined by international partners, to challenge China’s position.

It comes as China’s military launched a month-long series of exercises in the South China Sea.

The drills will take place west of the Leizhou Peninsula and will run throughout the whole of March.

The area will be closed off to all other vessels, according to a notice posted on the website of China’s Maritime Safety Administration.

The new exercises appear to be a response to increased US military activity in the region over recent weeks and months.

Monitoring data provided by a Beijing think tank showed that the US has just carried out a number of surveillance missions over the last week.

The South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) said that the US military sent various reconnaissance aircraft to the South China Sea last Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

These included an MQ-4C maritime reconnaissance drone, an EP-3E spy plane and an RC-135U strategic reconnaissance aircraft.

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At the same time, the US Navy dispatched the ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable to the region on Friday.

Military experts told China’s state media outlet The Global Times that these operations will allow the US to increase its military intelligence on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

They will allow the US military to eavesdrop on PLA communications, learn more about the electromagnetic signal patterns of Chinese equipment, as well as to plant underwater sonar devices to track PLA submarines, the Chinese analysts claimed.

A naval expert also told the Global Times that the PLA should step up its combat preparedness to counter further provocations from the US and its allies.

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