With China laser focused on propping up its manipulated markets, which over the course of the past month have become the laughing stock of "skeptics" everywhere for exposing just how rigged everything truly is (even as CNBC debates whether it is better to manipulate stocks via central bank QE or, as China is doing it, via direct buying of stocks), it is worth recalling that over the past year China has seen another, just a troublesome situation developing in the form of numerous territorial conflicts in the East and South China Seas primarily due to geopolitical bragging rights and natural resource claims.
As previously reported, China is currently pursuing a rapid program of artificial island construction in the South China Sea, despite being locked in disputes with several countries over its claims to almost the entire area.
And yet, even with Beijing focused on halting the market (and economic) carnage in recent weeks, the politburo found a way to remind its neighbors that China has no intention of allowing its domestic financial volatility derail its territorial expansion. It did so as part of a 10 day maritime training exercise which started last week, which culminating overnight when China’s navy carried out a "live firing drill" in the South China Sea to improve its maritime combat ability, state media has reported as tensions flare over the disputed waters.
According to the Guardian, the exercise on Tuesday involved at least 100 naval vessels, dozens of aircraft, missile launch battalions of the Second Artillery Corps and information warfare troops, Xinhua news agency said, citing navy sources.
It added that dozens of missiles and torpedoes, as well as thousands of shells and jamming bombs, were fired during the drill, which tested the navy’s air defense and early warning system. It also “improved its ability to react quickly”, Xinhua said.
China has rapidly expanded its navy in recent years, commissioning its first aircraft carrier in 2012 and adding to its submarine and surface fleets.
This is happening after last week Japan slammed Beijing’s bid to reclaim land there as a “coercive attempt” to make sweeping maritime claims that come as Tokyo is expanding the role of its own military. Ironically for the Abe cabinet, which indirectly asserts that its military expansion mandate is in response to threats from potential local foes (i.e., China), its recent resurgence in military ambitions resulted in Abe's cabinet recording its first majority disapproval rating of its tenure.
Unlike largely pacifist Japan, in China increasing militarism merely leads to a boost in "rally around the flag" morale, and greater patriotic support for the government.
Which is probably also why China was eager to release at least one clip showcasing its latest naval "live fire" military capabilities, as shown on the recording below.