China, Russia to stage military drills in South China sea

A boy holds Russian, left, and Chinese flags before a welcoming ceremony for Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (File Photo: AP)

China’s military said that on Thursday it will hold joint exercises with Russian forces in the South China Sea, following a recent arbitration ruling that rejected Beijing’s claim to almost the entire strategic body of water.

The air and sea drills will be held sometime in September and were aimed at deepening relations between the two militaries and boosting their capacity to respond to maritime threats, ministry spokesman Colonel Yang Yujun said at a monthly news briefing.

Yang said the exercises weren’t targeted at any third parties. He didn’t disclose the specific location, and some areas of the South China Sea are not disputed.

Chinese ships have challenged vessels from the US, the Philippines and other nations in disputed waters, and China considers the tribunal’s ruling earlier this month to be invalid.

Russia and China have held numerous joint drills in recent years, united in a desire to stem American power in the Asia-Pacific region, despite their own lingering mistrust over territory and influence in Central Asia.

Russia has also spoken in support of China’s rejection of the move by the Philippines to bring the South China Sea case before the international arbitration body in The Hague, Netherlands, and argued that countries without a direct claim to territory should stay impartial, in a reference to the US, which has called on China to accept the ruling as binding.

In the wake of the ruling, China held live-fire exercises and said it would launch regular air patrols over the South China Sea while continuing with the construction of man-made islands equipped with harbors, airstrips and other infrastructure with military uses.

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Last Update: 06:49 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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