Chinese-Russian naval drills ‘not targeted at third party, regional disputes’

By Guo Yuandan in Baltiysk and Liu Xin in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/22 0:28:39

A Chinese navy ship arrives at Russia's major Baltic Fleet base in the western seaport town of Baltiysk on Friday for the Russian-Chinese Naval Interaction-2017 exercises. Russian navy held a welcoming ceremony. The drills will involve nearly 10 ships of different classes and over 10 aircraft and helicopters from both the Russian and Chinese navies. Photo: CFP



China and Russia kicked off joint naval exercises in the Baltic Sea on Friday, with a Chinese naval officer reiterating that the exercises are not aimed at any third party and would help safeguard world peace.

Chinese experts said that it is reasonable for China and Russia, two major forces to safeguard world peace, to enhance military cooperation, and that China has no intention to interfere in the disputes in the region.

China and Russia have built high-level mutual trust and close ties through the joint military exercises conducted annually for the past six years, which show their resolution and capability to safeguard world peace, Tian Zhong, vice admiral of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, said during the opening ceremony of the Russian-Chinese Naval Interaction-2017 at Russia's major Baltic Fleet base in the western seaport town of Baltiysk on Friday.

Tian also said that the joint exercises are an annual event and not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with regional situation.

The drills will involve about  10 ships of different classes and over 10 aircraft and helic-opters from both the Russian and Chinese navies, Russian news agency Sputnik reported.

"It is normal for China to conduct joint exercises with friendly countries since it needs to protect its overseas interests and shoulder the responsibilities to safeguard regional and world peace. Some countries should get used to the situation," Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert who used to serve in the Second Artillery Corps of the PLA (now the PLA Rocket Force), told the Global Times on Friday.

CNN reported on Friday that the choice of the Baltic Sea is significant and "the area remains a source of heightened tension between Russia and the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies - China's arrival in the waters signals its intention to be considered equal to those powers."

Some NATO countries consider the Baltic Sea as their sphere of influence and hold a cold war mentality toward other countries' presence in the region, Song said, adding that China has no intention to interfere in the disputes in the region, and the purpose of the exercises is for the Chinese navy to "conduct training in unfamiliar waters."

"The world is not peaceful, especially when some members of the US-led NATO try to create the atmosphere of the cold war. China and Russia are two major political and military forces to safeguard world peace and to break the cold war mentality," Song said.

Defensive purpose

Some media and political figures should not use "transparency" or other excuses to pressure China and Russia since they announced the purpose, tasks, time, location and armed forces of the exercises one month ago, Zhang Junshe, a research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, told the Global Times on Friday.

Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, said in Lithuania in June that NATO would closely monitor Russia's military exercises close to the Baltic countries' borders, calling for transparency in the joint China-Russia drills and the joint drills between Russia and Belarus, according a statement posted on the website of NATO.

"Conducting joint rescue missions and protecting maritime economic activities are themes of the exercises, which show their defensive purpose. The exercises of anti-air defense, anti-submarine and anti-ship missiles aim to enhance maritime defensive operation, which are different from some countries' exercises to seize islands or landing operation in waters near China," Zhang said.

The main goal of the exercises is to enhance coordination between the two navies on countering maritime threats, to conduct joint activities and to promote naval cooperation, Sputnik reported.

Song also slammed reports claiming that China is showcasing its forces, saying that expanding sea powers have two kinds of goals - one is in the field of humanitarian aid, anti-terrorism and anti-piracy and the other to extend presence in some maritime regions, and China belongs to the first kind.

"One of China's goals to develop its naval forces is to protect the overseas interests, especially under the Belt and Road initiative, and other countries should not make fuss about it," Song said.

China and Russia need each other. Russia needs to counter the US and NATO's containment and China has also been under pressure from countries supported by the US, Song said.

This was the first visit of Chinese PLA naval ships to Baltiysk in the history of Russian-Chinese relations, Sputnik reported.


Newspaper headline: China, Russia begin exercises


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