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China voices concern over S. Korea-U.S. naval drill

All Headlines 16:42 June 28, 2010

By Kim Young-gyo

HONG KONG, June 28 (Yonhap) -- China is concerned about a planned South Korea-U.S. naval exercise on the West Sea as it may pose a threat to Beijing's defense, a Chinese newspaper reported Monday.

Seoul and Washington have announced they will stage the joint anti-submarine exercise in early July in waters off South Korea's west coast amid a tense showdown with North Korea over the sinking of a warship from the South.

South Korea and the U.S. accused North Korea of sinking the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan with a torpedo near the inter-Korean maritime border on the West Sea on March 26, killing 46 sailors on board. They are pushing for U.N. sanctions against the communist country, which denies responsibility for the sinking,

"(The joint drill) would risk challenging China's strategic bottom line and its coastal defense," the English-language Global Times said, quoting Chinese military strategists.

The West Sea is situated between the Korean Peninsula and China. Some of China's naval and air bases are located on the Shandong Peninsula. Joint naval drills between South Korea and the United States usually take place off South Korea's east coast.

"The joint exercise is mainly aimed at deterring North Korea, but the U.S. should consider the interests of concerned countries as the drill is conducted in sensitive waters," the newspaper quoted Li Daguang of China's National Defense University as saying.

The Global Times also introduced a suggestion by Chen Hu, chief editor for World Military Affairs magazine, who argued that China should make a military response and hold exercises in the same waters if the joint naval exercises take place.

Meanwhile, Xue Litai, a Stanford University researcher, said the drill will pose no threat to China's security, saying China does not need to overreact.

"After all, resorting to a large-scale war is not the current intention of the U.S. as the Western countries simply cannot afford it," said Xue in a column written for the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

"If it were not for the emergency situation such as the Cheonan sinking, the U.S. and its ally would not think of carrying out drills at such a sensitive area," Xue said.

ygkim@yna.co.kr
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