From Aviation Week:
China has begun combat-ready patrols in the waters around a disputed group of islands in the South China Sea, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday, the latest escalation in tensions over the potentially resource-rich area.
Asked about what China would do in response to Vietnamese air patrols over the Spratly Islands, the ministry’s spokesman Geng Yansheng said Beijing would “resolutely oppose any militarily provocative behavior”.
“In order to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests, the Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control,” he said.
“The Chinese military’s resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable,” Geng added, according to a transcript posted on the ministry’s website (www.mod.gov.cn).
I've posted before about the situation in the South China Sea, but this is the first that has come out about China beginning "combat ready" patrols in the area. One question I have is what does "combat ready" mean?
China has had warships in the South China Sea regularly for decades, so does "combat ready" imply that they will be arming commercial vessels to protect their claims in the area?
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