China conducts live-fire drills near Korean Peninsula

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Sept. 21 (UPI) — China is conducting live-fire exercises in the Yellow Sea not far from the Korea Peninsula from Monday to Wednesday, as the United States military deploys surveillance planes near Chinese territory.

Lianyungang Maritime Safety Administration said the People’s Liberation Army exercises will carry out the “practical training” this week and prohibited other ships from entering the maritime zone, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported Monday.

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Chinese troops have previously conducted live-fire exercises in the Yellow Sea for five days starting Sept. 8. The drills also resumed from Sept. 13 to Sunday.

Last week in the Yellow Sea, China tested seaborne rocket launches off the coast of Shandong Province. The Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration said debris from the boosters of the rockets was expected to land in the East China Sea, according to the South China Morning Post.

Chinese exercises in the Yellow Sea are being held repeatedly this month after a U.S. spy plane, the RC-135S Cobra Ball, flew near northeast China and the Korean Peninsula. The deployment was a rare move for the U.S. military. U.S. spy planes have flown missions in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea and have been deployed to monitor North Korea. U.S. flights have previously not been reported close to northeastern Chinese territory.

The United States maintains 28,500 troops on the Korean Peninsula. Talks have been ongoing regarding the transfer of wartime operational control, or OPCON, between Seoul and Washington.

Difference of opinion prevails over South Korean readiness to take over command of troops, however, News 1 reported Monday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s term ends in May 2022, and it is unclear whether the two countries will be prepared for transfer before that time, according to the report.

U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said Sept. 10 the two sides have got a “ways to go” before OPCON is realized.

“The commitment that we have is that there’s no movement of the goalposts,” Abrams had said, according to Yonhap.