Beijing: A fleet of Chinese naval ships has entered the disputed South China Sea for patrol and training missions to assert Chinese sovereignty over the waters.
"A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy fleet has entered the country's territorial waters in the South China Sea for patrol and training missions," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a military official as saying.
Comprising the missile destroyer Qingdao and the missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng, the fleet entered the South China Sea after passing through Bashi channel.
Located between Taiwan and the Philippines' Luzon Island, the Bashi Channel is an international sea route linking the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the report said.
The three ships, all from the North China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy, are scheduled to carry out patrol missions and multi-type training exercises in the South China Sea over the next few days, the report said.
The PLA Navy fleet departed Qingdao in east China on Tuesday for high-sea training exercises and patrol missions.
China claims entire South China Sea as its territorial waters. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan questioned Chinese claims and have been protesting Chinese aggressive posturing.