China closing part of South China Sea for military exercises: report

China will cut off access to part of the South China Sea for military drills, days after an international tribunal ruled against Beijing's broad claim to the waters.

Starting today, China will host military exercises off the east coast of its Hainan island province, its maritime administration said on its website, AFP reported.

China has also conducted combat air patrols in the region, which are slated to become a "regular" practice in the future, according to state newsagency Xinhua.

On Monday, the People's Liberation Army sent H-6K bombers, fighters, scouts and tankers to patrol islands and reefs that include Huangyan Dao, according to a spokesman for the PLA air force.

"To effectively fulfil its mission, the air force will continue to conduct combat patrols on a regular basis in the South China Sea," he said.

The announcement about the military exercises comes after an arbitration court in The Hague invalidated China's vast territorial claims in the South China Sea.

China refuses to recognise the ruling and did not take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines.

It has reacted angrily to calls by Western countries and Japan for adherence to the decision.

China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which more than $US5 trillion ($6.6 trillion) of trade moves annually.

In recent years, China has been dredging sand and building on islands in order to improve the basis of its claim over them.

China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have rival claims, of which China's is the largest.

The United States has conducted freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese-held islands, to Beijing's anger, while China has been bolstering its military presence there.

Source: The Herald