The Chinese Navy has conducted a rare live-fire drill in the Indian Ocean amid border tensions with India over the standoff in the Doklam region of the Sikkim sector. The exercise was to improve the fleet’s performance under real combat circumstance, Chief of Staff of the Chinese fleet Chen Denan told state-run news agency Xinhua on Friday.

Though the report did not disclose the exact location of the drill, it said that the Chinese Navy carried out the exercise for several days in the western part of the Indian Ocean. During the drill, the Chinese fleet carried out strikes against enemy surface ships and replenished its fuel tanks and drinking water. The fleet included the Chinese destroyer Changchun, guided-missile frigate Jingzhou and supply vessel Chaohu.

The fleet is on a six-month friendship visit to Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania. It has conducted several joint exercises with at least 10 foreign navies since April this year.

The live-fire drill in the Indian Ocean comes at a time when bilateral ties between India and China have been strained since the Indian Army stopped China from constructing a motorable road up to the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction through the Doklam plateau. Both Beijing and New Delhi have blamed each other for the ongoing standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim sector. India and China have maintained that troops from the other country had transgressed into their territory.