Navies of China and Russia engage in joint maneuvers (VIDEO)
China and Russia kicked off week-long joint naval maneuvers on Thursday near the Chinese coast. Some of the training will take place closer to Taiwan than ever before in the history of the annual exercises, Chinese media have noted.
The two neighboring nations’ flotillas met up on Wednesday in the East China Sea, south of the South Korean island of Jeju, the Russian Defense Ministry reported. It released footage showing the warships sailing in formation parallel to each other.
The Chinese Defense Ministry said the two fleets held a brief opening ceremony for the ‘Maritime Interaction 2022’ exercise, before moving towards a designated training area. They are led by the Russian Slava-class missile cruiser Varyag, the flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet, and the Chinese Type 052C destroyer Jinan respectively.
China and Russia have been holding joint naval exercises since 2005 under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security group. The specialized bilateral Maritime Interaction drills were first conducted in 2012, which makes this year’s the tenth in a row.
The training preview released by both militaries said the exercise will be held in an area stretching along the coast of Zhejiang province from the Zhoushan archipelago to the city of Taizhou.
Participating ships will conduct gun and missile live-fire drills, train in anti-submarine warfare and make use of naval aircraft, including both helicopters and planes. The mission is set to wrap up on Tuesday next week.
The Chinese newspaper Global Times said in an editorial on Thursday that the exercise “will have a deterrent effect on [the] US’ simultaneous suppression of China and Russia.”
The outlet noted that the training area is the closest to Taiwan in the ten-year history of the joint maneuvers, adding that this should not be taken as a hostile gesture. The distance between Taiwan and Taizhou is about 350 km.
The self-governed Chinese island was the focus of a diplomatic stand-off between Washington and Beijing this year. Top US military officials have claimed that China could launch a military operation to capture Taiwan within years. Beijing maintains that it prefers peaceful reunification.