Troops land from air & sea in spectacular finale to Russia-China naval drills
A series of joint drills held by the Russian and Chinese navies has come to an end on Monday. The exercises culminated with a spectacular amphibious and air landing operation on an island off the coast of China’s southern Guangdong Province.
Monday may have been the last day of the Joint Sea 2016 naval drills, but the troops from both countries were in no mood for a holiday, despite the tropical setting.
They were deeply focused on undertaking a series of challenging exercises, which would test their abilities in near live combat situations. However, a senior officer told China’s Xinhua news agency that the drills were even carried out in a “background of actual combat,” which shows how seriously they were being taken.
One of the drills off Guangdong Province saw the Russian and Chinese Navies defend civilian vessels, which is vital in the modern world given the ever greater threat of piracy. Troops also took part in storming a vessel.
One of the highlights of the week was a joint mission carried out by the Russian and Chinese military, which saw them storm a fictional enemy stronghold, using armored personnel carriers, amongst other vehicles.
Speaking to RT, Joseph Cheng, a political analyst at Hong Kong City University, said that the drills are mutually beneficial to both Beijing and Moscow, while they also demonstrate the countries’ support for one another.
“I think the two countries are certainly engaging in military posturing to demonstrate their common interest, to support each other in view of the unfriendly attitude on the part of the US and other Western countries,” he said.
“On the part of Russia, it certainly wants to show that it is a global power with global interests and is ready to defend such global interests. On the part of China, it certainly welcomes exercises of this kind in response to American bilateral and multilateral exercises in the area, as well as in the East China Sea,” he added.
Both countries were keen to show off their military might, with a number of warships, including a missile destroyer and anti-submarine vessels, on display.
The joint Russia-China drills also coincided with the start of the US-led “Valiant Shield 2016” exercises in the West Asian Pacific. This year’s event was the fifth time that the drills have been held, with the first edition taking place in 2012 in the Yellow Sea, off the Chinese coast.
Last year, the exercise was conducted in two phases, with the first in the Mediterranean in May, and the second in the Peter the Great Gulf, the waters off the Clerk Cape, and the Sea of Japan (also known as the East Sea) in late August.
The South China Sea is a major trade route, as well as a source of regional tension, with several powers, including China, contesting sovereignty over parts of the sea. The Russian-Chinese drill, which took place off the country’s southern coast, was not directed against any third party, the two countries’ militaries said.
On July 12, the International Hague Tribunal ruled that “there is no legal basis for China to claim historic rights” to the disputed Spratly Islands. Beijing dismissed the ruling, saying the territories are its exclusive economic zone, while also accusing Washington of taking sides in the dispute.