The China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has conducted a rare live-fire drill in the Indian Ocean to improve the fleet’s performance, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported on Friday.
The exercises came amid border tensions with India over the standoff in the Doklam region near the Bhutan-China-India trijunction.
The fleet, that took part in the drill, included the guided-missile destroyer Changchun (150), guided-missile frigate Jingzhou (532) and a Type 903 replenishment ship, Chaohu.
Though the report did not disclose the exact location of the drill, it said that the Navy carried out the exercise for several days in the western part of the Indian Ocean. During the drill, the Chinese fleet carried out strikes against simulated enemy surface ships and replenished its fuel tanks and drinking water.
“The fleet carried out strikes against ‘enemy’ surface ships and completed transverse replenishment of fuel and drinking water during an exercise that lasted for several days. The drill is aimed at improving the ships’ performance under real combat circumstances,” Chen Denan, Chief of Staff of the Chinese fleet, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
The report added that the fleet is on a six-month friendship visit to Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania and has conducted joint exercises with the navies of 10 countries since it started its voyage on April 23.
The live-fire drill in the Indian Ocean comes at a time when bilateral ties between India and China have been strained since the Indian Army stopped China from constructing a motorable road up to the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction through the Doklam plateau.
Both Beijing and New Delhi have blamed each other for the ongoing standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim sector. India and China have maintained that troops from the other country had transgressed into their territory.
The PLA has carried out a number of well-publicised drills in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and close to the Indian border since the standoff between border troops at Donglang or Doklam began in mid-June.
Written with inputs from Xinhua, Scroll and Hindustan Times