China and Russia launch navy drills in Yellow Sea

China and Russia launched their first joint naval exercises on Sunday in the Yellow Sea off the east coast of China.

China has 16 naval vessels and two submarines taking part in the exercises while Russia has four warships, according to state media.

They will focus on joint air defence, anti-submarine tactics and search and rescue, as well as simulated rescue of hijacked vessels and anti-terrorism drills.

“This joint military exercise is a long scheduled one between China and Russia in order to uphold regional peace and stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.

The six days of drills come amid tensions between China and its Asian neighbours over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

China’s army newspaper warned on Saturday that other military exercises now taking place in Asia between the United States and the Philippines could lead to armed confrontation.

“The mentality behind this sort of military exercise will lead to the road of military confrontation and armed force as a resolution,” the People’s Liberation Army Daily said.

China and several of its neighbours have rival claims to uninhabited islands in the strategic maritime region, which is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas and supports key shipping lanes.

Beijing and Tokyo also have a long-running dispute over another chain of islands in the East China Sea, called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan, which sit in rich fishing grounds that may also harbour energy resources.

China’s drills with Russia have taken place through a regional grouping, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which groups the two with central Asian countries in a forum originally established to counter NATO influence.



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