China, Russia announce joint military drills in contested South China Sea

BEIJING, July 28 (UPI) — China and Russia announced they will hold joint naval exercises in the South China Sea, a hotly contested region with a $5 trillion international trade route that has mostly been claimed by China.

Yang Yujun of China’s Defense Ministry announced the joint drill, which will begin in September. He said the drills “are not aimed at third countries.”

Military operations between the two countries have been held annually since 2012. Last year, scores of aircrafts and vessels, along with 500 military personnel from Russia and China, participated in drills in the Sea of Japan off Russia’s coast.

The drills taking place in September are likely to increase tensions in the region where there are overlapping claims to the South China Sea from China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. The drills will also increase tensions between China and the United States, which is also concerned about China’s claim to the region.

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