The People's Liberation Army held a series of preparedness drills in Shenyang, Jinan and newly established Sansha in Hainan, the city created by Beijing to oversee disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The military drills on Wednesday were aimed at enhancing soldiers' combat consciousness and capabilities, the People's Liberation Army Daily reported.
It said soldiers from the South Sea Fleet stationed on Chenhang, in the Duncan Islands group in the Paracels, were woken by an air raid alarm that sounded at the island's airport at 4.30am. They dressed quickly and boarded warships in a few minutes, it said.
The Paracels, controlled by Beijing, are also claimed by Taipei and Vietnam.
Since Chenhang is one of the most important strategic islands near Sansha, the daily said, its garrison had been trained to remain vigilant at all time, especially during festival holidays. It said officers had deployed more troops on patrols.
Sansha has a permanent civilian population of about 1,000 but was given army divisions comprising at least 6,000 troops after it was upgraded to a prefectural-level city on June 21.
On the same day, preparedness exercises, including air defence, anti-terrorist, emergency muster and fire drills, took place in Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning , and Jinan, the capital city of Shandong, the newspaper reported. It said drills were also carried out in Zhejiang's capital city, Hangzhou, on New Year's Day.
Ni Lexiong, director of the sea power and defence policy research institute at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the exercises were to improve the PLA's ability to deal with surprise military strikes, especially from the Japanese military, known for its sneak raids in the second world war.
"All the drills took place in cities along the South China and East China seas, where our maritime territorial disputes with neighbouring countries are still unresolved," he said.
"Among the rivals, Japan is the most challenging country in terms of precautions because it was famous for its surprise attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941."
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