China to carry out more military drills in South China Sea
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Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy patrol near a sign in the Spratly Islands, known in China as the Nansha Islands, February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
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BEIJING (Reuters) - China will carry out military drills in the South China Sea all day on Thursday, the country's maritime safety administration said on Wednesday, ordering all other shipping to stay away.
China routinely holds drills in the disputed waterway, and the latest exercises come less than a week after a U.S. navy destroyer sailed near the Paracel Islands, prompting a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area.
The maritime administration gave coordinates for an area south of the Chinese island province of Hainan and northwest of the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, but controlled by China.
The brief statement gave no other details, apart from prohibiting other ships from entering the area.
China's Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China has a runway on Woody Island, its largest presence on the Paracels, and has placed surface-to-air missiles there, according to U.S. officials.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have rival claims in the South China Sea, but Beijing's is the largest. It argues it can do what it wants on the islands it claims as they have been Chinese since ancient times.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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