China Marine Corps makes presence felt in West Philippine Sea

by Ian Irving Bacungan

Chinese military arm People’s Liberation Army Marine Corps (PLANMC) recently conducted a drill in the West Philippine Sea, coinciding with China’s continuous claiming of territories in the disputed area.

In a press release by the official news outlet of the PLA, the drill participated by China Marine Corps is intended to improve the “ability to respond to air and sea conditions” as well as to accompany Navy ships as they patrol through contested waters.

On May 5, the PLANMC conducted an anti-piracy drill near the Paracel Islands which highlighted covert, amphibious assaults with fast-moving speedboats and naval aviation aircraft, which it undertook together with the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

The Marine Corps has grown into 35,000 troops over the past three years and has been more visible in the West Philippine Sea, according to a report for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The PLANMC might conduct another military exercise in August in the West Philippine Sea to reportedly simulate an island seizure operation.

The drill, which is part of an ongoing two-and-a-half-month-long exercise in the West Philippine Sea involves China’s army, navy, and PLANMC. 

While Chinese state media is yet to confirm such activity, a Global Times article noted that the said drill is intended to simulate a takeover of Taiwan.

Taiwan recently issued a statement saying that it would monitor the movement of China’s military. Apart from Taiwan, other claimants of the West Philippine Sea like Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines are also expected to keep an eye on China’s activities in the said area.

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