The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) warned that South China Sea drills would continue until at least Aug. 2 and recommended that civilian vessels stay away from the area.

Since July 2o, the CCP’s air force has been conducting live-fire drills and sending more fighter planes to its bases in the South China Sea.

As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said the exercises were intended to send a warning to the U.S. Navy about its recent patrols in the area, as the bombers were designed to attack warships at sea.

The People’s Liberation Army Southern Command conducted the drills on July 22 and July 23, with more than 3,000 missiles fired at moving targets at sea, China National Radio reported on Sunday.

China and Vietnam are currently in a territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands where they also face claims from the Philippines, and Taiwan.

The United States has a strong military presence in the area in defense of freedom of movement, and two weeks ago again demonstrated against any maritime claims by the Chinese Communist Party.

“We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press release. “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.”

With this statement, the United States reinforces upholding international rule of law and stopping Beijing’s use of coercion to take resources, harass fishermen, and intimidate its neighbors.

Background on the South China Sea

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, embarked on an ambitious wave of island building in the South China Sea, extending its claims to sovereignty over much of the area, defying the logical claims of its Southeast Asian neighbors.

 Dodging all kinds of international agreements and norms, the CCP has deployed missiles and blockade equipment on artificial islands and challenged U.S. ships and aircraft operating in the region.

 Commenting on the situation, Alexander Vuving, a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Asia-Pacific Security Studies (APCSS) in Honolulu, told Fox News, China’s ultimate goal, or as Chinese President Xi Jinping calls, ‘the China Dream,’ is to ‘restore’ China’s place at the very top of the world’s hierarchy of nations (…) As the lifeline of Asia runs through the South China Sea, whoever controls the South China Sea will dominate Asia, and with the world’s center of gravity shifting to Asia, whoever dominates Asia will rule the world.” 

 This advance by the CCP across the disputed territory is what led the United States to deploy two warships—the USS Bunker Hill, and the USS Barry—along with an Australian naval vessel, as the Army said in a statement.

 Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again stated the Trump administration’s position on the issue in a Twitter message, “The United States’ policy is crystal clear: The South China Sea is not China’s maritime empire. If Beijing violates international law and free nations do nothing, history shows the CCP will simply take more territory. China Sea disputes must be resolved through international law.”