Just days after China announced plans to grow its defense budget, the country's largest missile maker has started developing military drones with stealth abilities that can evade anti-aircraft weapons, local media reported Thursday. The move comes as China continues to advance in its military modernization program amid growing threats from its neighbors and the West. Amid tensions with U.S. over the South China Sea, and the recent threats from North Korea after its missile launches, China, which is ranked third in the list of biggest military in the world has stepped up research into military drones. Tensions between China and the U.S. erupted after Beijing's island building and military advancement in the disputed South China Sea, through which over $5 trillion of maritime trade passes annually.
China and Russia said Monday that the South China Sea dispute should not be internationalized and called for its settlement based on negotiation and consultation, Beijing's official Xinhua News reported. Meanwhile, Hugo Swire, the British minister of state responsible for East Asia, said earlier in the day that a ruling -- expected in May or early June -- in the Philippines' international arbitration case against China's South China Sea claims must be binding. On Sunday, a Chinese military aircraft made the first public landing on the Fiery Cross Reef of the South China Sea. "We're aware that a Chinese military aircraft landed at Fiery Cross Reef on Sunday in what China described as a humanitarian operation to evacuate three ill workers," Pentagon spokesman Capt.