Beijing: A Chinese navy group, led by Shandong, the country's first-generation aircraft carrier, recently conducted military exercises in the South China Sea, a navy spokesperson said on Sunday amid Beijing's growing aggression in the East and South China Seas.

Shandong is China's second aircraft carrier and this is the first time it has embarked on exercises made aware to the general public in 2021, the Global Times reported.

"The Chinese navy has recently formed an aircraft carrier group headed by the Shandong to conduct exercises in the South China Sea," the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) spokesperson Gao Xiucheng told a news conference.

The navy spokesperson said these were routine drills that were "completely legitimate" and aimed to enhance the navy's capabilities and safeguard the national sovereignty and security as well as regional stability.

"We hope the outside world can view [the Shandong's exercise] objectively and rationally. The PLA Navy will continue to organise similar exercises according to the plan regularly in the future," Gao said.

China's second aircraft carrier Shandong is the first home-made one. China bought the hulk of its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, from Ukraine, Sputnik reported.

This power projection comes in the backdrop of China's increasing maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.

According to a recent report published in The Diplomat magazine, the Chinese Navy may double its fleet of destroyers in the next five years, according to a report.

The PLAN, which currently has 20 destroyers, is expected to operate 39 warships within five years, in a move that is expected to strengthen the attack reach of the force.