The announcement, which comes a day after the US navy confirmed a strike group led by the USS Ronald Reagan was also carrying out military manoeuvres in the area, is is a clear indication of the raised tensions in the disputed waterway. Footage released by the People’s Liberation Army showed the Hong Kong-based warship, the Huizhou, firing cannons and torpedoes.

Military personnel were also seen carrying out anti-piracy and anti-terrorism operations.

The PLA’s Hong Kong garrison said anti-submarine training had been one of the main elements of the exercises.

The corvette is one of two warships based in the former British colony and is mainly used for coastal defence.

It is also armed with surface-to-air missiles.

Zhou Chenming, a Beijing-based military expert, told the South China Morning Post the drill was a symbolic action aimed at sending a signal to pro-independence forces in Taiwan, just days after the visit of US Health Secretary Alex Azar.

Particularly, the aim was to rein in the island’s outspoken President Tsai Ing-Wen.

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Speaking earlier this month, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, lashed out at the United States after the confirmation of a US/Taiwan arms deal worth £620million ($493million) for the upgrade of surface-to-air Patriot missiles.

He added: “These attempts to contain China with Taiwan interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

“They are completely wrong and extremely dangerous.

“The US should realise that China must and will be reunified, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation must and will be achieved.

“These actions have sent extremely wrong messages to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities.

“We urge the US side to immediately correct its mistake, stop its official and military contacts of any form with Taiwan, earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communique, and promise that no similar incident would occur again.

He added: “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.

“The future of Taiwan lies in reunification and the welfare of the Taiwan compatriots lies in national rejuvenation.

“There is no way out for Taiwan to bank on foreign support, and it is doomed to be futile for the US to contain China with Taiwan.”

source: express.co.uk

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