After successfully concluding naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea in May, China and Russia have agreed to hold another naval drill that is sure to alarm Japan. The two countries will hold naval and air defense exercises in the Sea of Japan, just 250 miles off the coast of Japan. Notably, Beijing and Tokyo are involved in a dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
China expanding amphibious warfare capabilities
The Sino-Russian military drills will be held from August 20-28. The military maneuvers come as the U.S. has ramped up defense cooperation with its Asian allies to tackle China’s increasingly assertive territorial claims in the South and East China seas. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the drills would take place in the Sea of Japan and the Gulf of Peter the Great, near the Russian port city of Vladivostok.
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The exercises will include a joint amphibious assault drill for the first time. At least 20 warships and support vessels from each country will participate. The anti-ship and anti-submarine exercises will see the involvement of Chinese fighter jets, frigates, destroyers and support vessels. The Russian navy will dispatch helicopters, ships, submarines, and fixed-wing aircraft. China is currently expanding its fleet of amphibious warfare vessels by inducting six new Type-071 Yuzhao-class vessels.
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Last week, Japan urged China to halt construction of oil exploration platforms in the waters claimed by both in the East China Sea. However, China ignored Japan’s request. Russia has released its new Maritime Doctrine that called for strong naval cooperation with China in the Pacific Ocean. Moscow aims to hold at least 4,000 military drills through 2015.
Moscow and Beijing have come closer in the past few years to challenge the U.S. hegemony. The Chinese defense ministry said yesterday that cooperation with Russia would ensure peace in the region. However, China emphasized that the naval exercises and strengthening relations between the two countries should not be perceived as “creating a military coalition in any form.”
Russia and China have held joint naval exercises regularly since 2011.