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China announces live fire drills in the East China Sea

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BEIJING (PTI): China on Saturday announced that it will conduct a series of live fire training drills next week in the contested waters of the East China Sea, where it is locked in a bitter maritime dispute with Japan.

The five-day exercise from July 29-August 2 comes even as air traffic at various Chinese airports went haywire due to the ongoing air-exercises, the Maritime Safety Administration said.

It warned ships to stay away from the region and asked authorities to ensure safety during the training, which is scheduled to last from midnight to 6 pm each day, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Chinese and Japanese navies and military planes aggressively patrol the disputed islands called 'Diaoyu' by China and 'Senkakus' by Japan.

Both sides are beefing up their military strengths by holding regular drills.

Meanwhile, China's aviation regulator issued an orange alert today for massive flight delays in eastern and central China, saying the traffic capacity of some routes may drop as much as 65 per cent.

The air-exercises were going on for several days.

"The airspace in east China will be quite busy on Saturday," the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said, noting at least 23 airports will be affected, including those in Shanghai, Nanjing, Nanchang, Hefei, Zhengzhou and Wenzhou.

In an earlier statement, it said that "rainstorms, routine military exercises and other comprehensive factors" were behind widespread flight delays and cancellations.

In Shanghai, the air traffic's busy hours will last best part of the day Saturday reducing air traffic capacity by 65 per cent.

During the same period, the civil flight handling capacity in airspace above the Zhengzhou area will drop by 60 per cent, according to CAAC.

During busy hours, flights will be unable to land at airports in the cities of Linyi, Xuzhou, Lianyungang, Huai'an, Yancheng, Changzhou, Yangzhou and Nantong, while flights departing for airports in Nanchang, Ganzhou, Jiujiang, Yichun, Jinggangshan, Jingdezhen, Wuyishan and Wenzhou will not be allowed to take off.

At least 14 flights operated by six airline companies in Shanghai were cancelled as of noon today.

The CAAC also banned applications for business jet flights, additional flights and charters at the affected airport.


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