Chinese and Russian navies on Monday concluded their joint military exercise in waters off the southern province of Guangdong, with a drill to “seize” an island, in a symbolic move by Beijing whose claims over the South China Sea was struck down by an international tribunal.
Though held off Guangdong coast far from nine-dash line claim over SCS, the drill has a strategic value for China as it comes nearly two months after an international tribunal struck down Beijing’s claims over almost all of SCS.
Under pressure from the US and Japan, China regards the drills as significant as they demonstrate Russia’s backing to it, downplaying reports of international isolation.
The eight-day long exercises have ended with both navies staging a mission to seize an island.
Besides the SCS which has numerous islands with rich mineral deposits, China also stakes claims over the islands held by Japan in the East China Sea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed China’s decision to reject the SCS tribunal verdict which the US and Japan said is legally binding.
As the key element of the annual drill, the Chinese and Russian navies dispatched vessels including missile destroyer, anti-submarine vessels, missile frigates, ship-based helicopters and conventional submarines, among others, official media here reported.
The exercises demonstrated the Chinese and Russian navies’ capacities in command management, telecommunications coordination, and intelligence and information sharing, Senior Captain Li Xiangdong, who commanded the Chinese warships, told state-run China Daily.
Addressing the closing ceremony of the drill, which ran from September 13 to 19, Wang Hai, deputy commander of the Chinese Navy, lauded the exercise as successful and said the activity had achieved the desired aim.
Wang said the drill had improved the actual combat capabilities, informationisation and standardisation of the two navies, adding that they will expand practical cooperation and boost communication, state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Alexander Fedotenkov, deputy commander of the Russian Navy, said the two navies shared theoretical and practical experience and were engaged in sound collaboration throughout the exercise.
Fedotenkov said the two sides will maintain close marine cooperation ties, deal with new challenges and threats, and together safeguard world peace and regional stability.
The “Joint Sea 2016” drill featured surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, marines and amphibious armored equipment.