China 2015 military drills to focus on 'winning local wars'

China 2015 military drills to focus on 'winning local wars'
Chinese soldiers training in freezing temperatures in Heilongjiang.

BEIJING - China's military training this year will focus on "improving fighting capacity" to win "local wars" in adverse and high-tech conditions, the defence ministry said Thursday, with Beijing embroiled in several territorial disputes.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been tasked with improving its ability to "win battles" by President Xi Jinping, its commander-in-chief, who has also pushed a high-profile campaign to root our corruption in the world's biggest fighting force.

"The PLA will firmly uphold the criteria of improving fighting capacity," defence ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Yang Yujun told reporters when asked about the military's exercise plans this year.

The PLA would also "take part in more joint exercise training and competition with foreign militaries so as to improve the capability of winning local wars", he said at a regular briefing.

Areas where the PLA will beef up training include in "a complex electro-magnetic environment in special terrains and during extreme weather conditions", he added, citing a recent directive on training for 2015. He did not give specific examples.

Yang did not elaborate on the meaning of "local wars" but China has been involved in occasionally tense confrontations with Japan and the Philippines over maritime disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea respectively, amid fears that the disputes could result in armed clashes.

Asked separately about Chinese naval activities in the Indian Ocean, including submarines, Yang said that China has since 2008 been dispatching different types of ships to the Gulf of Aden to carry out escort duties and international anti-piracy operations.

"In the process we have notified relevant countries as to the escort missions of the PLA navy ships, including the PLA navy submarines," he said.

"These are quite normal activities and there is no need to read too much into them," he added.

China has been extending its naval reach, sending more vessels further away from its shores for operations including escort and anti-piracy missions, humanitarian assistance, disaster and medical relief, and search and rescue, Yang said.

"By doing so the Chinese navy is contributing to provide more international public service and is helping with peace and stability in the open seas," he said.

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