CHINA launched a massive navy drill in the South China Sea with 40 warships in an overt display of military muscle- as three US carrier battle groups passed by.
Chinese state media says the exercises are centred on the aircraft carrier Liaoning, with warships combining from the North, East and South Sea fleets.
This is the first time China's refurbished Soviet-era aircraft carrier, Liaoning, has engaged in large-scale live-fire drills.
It comes as the United States has three aircraft carrier battle groups converging on the contested waterway for its own exercises.
Both sets of military manoeuvres are being held as an Asian economic forum gets underway on the Chinese island of Hainan, which borders the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming told the South China Morning Post: “China wants to show the outside world its determination to defend the fruits of its economic reforms over the past 40 years.