Sino-Russian military drill begins in South China Sea

Beijing, Sep 12 (IANS) China and Russia on Monday began their largest joint military drill in the South China Sea off Guangdong province.

Five ships, two helicopters, submarines and nearly 100 soldiers are part of the eight-day long drill, said the Chinese Ministry of National Defence.

The military sources had said over the weekend that Russian and Chinese forces will be conducting defence and rescue operations and anti-submarine exercises along with simulation of island takeovers by the navy, EFE news reported.

The drill – Joint Sea-2016 – aims to consolidate and advance the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and deepen friendly and practical cooperation between the two militaries, Chinese spokesperson Liang Yang said on Sunday.

It will also improve coordination between the two navies on joint defence operations at sea, he said.

Although the drills come amid tensions between China, its southern neighbours and the US but Beijing claimed that the drill, that will concluded on the September 18, was a routine activity between the two armies.

The military maneuvers takes place two months after the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled against Beijing and in favour of Manila in the dispute between both the countries over several territories in the South China Sea.

China had rejected the ruling and urged the Philippines to settle its disputes bilaterally, an offer the new government of President Rodrigo Duterte accepted.

Moscow had backed Beijing’s refusal to accept the Hague’s ruling over the South China Sea.

The annual China-Russia joint naval exercise is the fifth of its kind between the two countries since 2012.

In 2015, the drill was conducted in two phases: in the Mediterranean, and then in Peter the Great Gulf in the Sea of Japan

–IANS

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