Russia, China to conduct joint military exercises in South China Sea

BEIJING, Sept. 11 (UPI) — Russia and China plan to conduct joint naval drills Monday through Sept. 19 in the South China Sea — the first time any country has done exercises there since Beijing’s claims to the sea were rejected two months ago.

The drills will take place off southern China’s Guangdong Province — not near Beijing’s nine-dash line, which was rejected by the international tribune court in The Hague in July in a case by the Philippines over Beijing’s maritime claims.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have opposed China’s claims over the South China Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his support to Beijing’s stand this month at the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

The naval drills, announced in July, will feature navy surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters marine corps and amphibious armored equipment from both navy operations, Chinese navy representative Liang Yang said.

Exercises will include defense, rescue, anti-submarine operations and island seizing, Liang said.

In July, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson said the operation “does not target any third party.”

The China-Russia joint naval exercises have been conducted four previous times annually.

Last year, the drill was conducted in the Mediterranean in May, and in the Peter the Great Gulf, the waters off the Clerk Cape and the Sea of Japan in August.

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