IBTimes UK

China's Ministry of Defence has said that the country's navy conducted combat drills on Friday near its southern island province of Hainan and the Paracel islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

China organised the drill session a few days before the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration comes out with a ruling in the matter. The court will be ruling on July 12 on a case brought by the Philippines against several of China's territory claims in the South China Sea.

The drills, which had different training exercises, focused on several measures such as air control, surface operations and anti-submarine warfare. Ships from China's northern, eastern and southern fleet participated in the drills.

China claims to have authority on nearly the whole of the South China Sea, but its claims overlap those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam in certain parts.

The nation has repeatedly declared that it does not consider the ruling of the arbitration court as legally binding.

"China adheres to the position of settling disputes through negotiation and consultation with states directly concerned," the state news agency, Xinhua, said on Saturday. The agency also added that "this has always been China's policy, and it will never change."

IBTimes UK