Liaoning aircraft carrier in South China Sea
Representational image REUTERS/Stringer

China will continue to carry out military exercises in the South China Sea region despite “meddling and disruption” by foreign countries, the state-run People’s Daily newspaper said in a commentry. The country’s first and only aircraft carrier Liaoning conducted drills in December in the disputed region, triggering concerns over security among the Taiwanese and Japanese governments.

“These provocations, pressure, fantasies and over-exaggerations will not prevent the normal drills of the Chinese military. The meddling and disruption of countries from outside the region can only run counter to the consensus of common interests that accords with this region and the world,” People’s Daily said Sunday, according to Reuters. “Henceforth, the Chinese military’s exercises far out at sea will become a kind of normal, extremely normal drills.”

Earlier this month, the Liaoning carrier sailed through the Taiwan Strait, prompting Taiwan to scramble jets and navy ships. At the time, China said that it was "very normal" for the carrier to pass through an international waterway as part of its drills.

The Chinese newspaper also said that no amount of “word bombs” would stop Beijing’s exercises. Rex Tillerson, U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, said Jan. 11 that China should be not allowed to access the contested islands in the South China Sea. He had also said that China’s activity in the contentious region was “extremely worrisome” and would be a threat to the “entire global economy” if the country tried to dictate access to the waterway.

China has been carrying out military drills in the South China Sea, where the country has also built a few islands. Most of the disputed waters, through which about $5 trillion worth of maritime trade passes every year, have been claimed by China. Beijing has maintained that it does not intend to start a conflict and that its operations will add to the safety of the region.