BEIJING: China and Russia on Friday began their biggest-ever joint naval drills in the Sea of Japan, a further sign of the broad-based progress in ties between the former Cold War rivals.
During the military exercise, eighteen surface ships, one submarine, three aircraft, five ship-launched helicopters and two commando units were involved in the “Joint Sea-2013” maneuvers, which is due to continue through July 12.
The joint exercises will reportedly include anti-submarine warfare, close maneuvering, and the simulated take-over of an enemy ship.
China’s Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army Fang Fenghui reportedly ratified relevant documents with his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov and announced the naval drills at a joint press conference in Moscow on Monday.
According to the two officials, the drills are being conducted in Peter the Great Bay of Sea of Japan from July 5 to July 12.
Another joint China-Russia anti- terrorism military drill code-named Peace Mission-2013 has also been scheduled to take place in Russia’s Chelyabinsk from July 27 to August 15, according to the officials.
Fang insisted during the Moscow press conference that the joint drills are not intended to target any third party and meant to enhance cooperation between the two armed forces in military training and boost their capability in coordinating military operations, so that they can play a positive role in safeguarding regional security and stability.
The drills are reportedly much bigger than any previous exercises the Chinese navy has held with a foreign partner.
China’s growing powerful navy is contributing four destroyers, two latest-generation guided missile frigates and a support ship, all of which sailed Monday from the port of Qingdao, where China’s Northern Fleet is based, to Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok.
“This is our strongest line-up ever in a joint naval drill,” Rear Admiral Yang Junfei, commander of the Chinese contingent, was cited as saying by the local media.
The naval maneuvers take place amid Chinese tensions with regional neighbors including Japan and the Philippines over maritime disputes.
Tokyo and Manila’s claims in the East China and South China Seas, respectively, have heightened their tensions with Beijing.
This is while the US and Japanese navies also held joint exercises off the coast of California just last month.