China and Russia have carried out joint naval exercises in the resource-rich South China Sea off China’s southern Guangdong province away from the disputed areas, nearly two months after an international tribunal dismissed Beijing’s claims to most of the waters.
Vessels including a missile destroyer, anti-submarine vessels, missile frigates, ship-based helicopters and conventional submarines among others took part in the exercise, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The vessels were divided into two fleets and “confrontations” were staged off the eastern waters of Zhanjiang in Guangdong which is close to Chinese coast, away from the Beijing’s nine-dashline claim over almost all of the South China Sea which was struck down by an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in The Hague in July.
A senior officer of the joint drill said yesterday’s exercise was carried out under “a background of actual combat”, the report said. Chinese and Russian navies are currently holding the “Joint Sea-2016” drill from September 13 to 19.
These are the fifth Sino-Russian “Joint Sea” drills since 2012. They are part of China and Russia’s efforts to strengthen military and security cooperation in recent years, according to the South China Morning Post. Last year, the joint drills were held in the Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean, and involved the People’s Liberation Army’s North and East sea fleets, it added.