China’s navy has in recent days carried out more exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday, calling them routine drills.

China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

“The People’s Liberation Army Navy in recent days organized a fleet to go to relevant seas in the South China Sea, by way of the Western Pacific, to carry out exercises,” China’s Defence Ministry said in a brief statement.

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