China, Russia begin naval drills in Sea of Japan

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/18 23:33:39

Missile frigate Daqing, one of four Chinese People's Liberation Army navy vessels participating in joint military drills with Russia, docks in Vladivostok on Monday. Photo: Xinhua

A Chinese naval fleet arrived at Russian port city Vladivostok on Monday for joint drills in the Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhotsk for the first time.

The fleet consists of the missile destroyer Shijiazhuang, missile frigate Daqing, comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu and submarine rescue ship Changdao. Helicopters and deep submersible rescue vehicles are also participating in the drills.

The drills, from September 18 to 26, are the second phase of annual joint naval drills between the two countries. The first phase was held from July 22 to 27 in the Baltic Sea.

With more troops, complex exercises to test combat readiness, the drills will further improve the two navies' joint operations and ability in safeguarding world peace, said Tian Zhong, Chinese director of the joint drills, according to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Navy website.

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times that the drills in Okhotsk, with a higher altitude and cooler climate, differ from the temperate and subtropical regions where the Chinese navy normally conducts drills, and could make the PLA Navy more flexible under different conditions.

The drills are being conducted near islands claimed by both Russia and Japan, known by Russia as the Southern Kurils and by Japan as the Northern Territories.

"China hopes to safeguard the sea routes in the area and will regularly enter the waters of Okhotsk in the future because the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which may expand to the Arctic Ocean, is likely to pass through the area," Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times.

Experts stressed that the drills are not meant to target any third party.

"The seas of Japan and Okhotsk are coastal waters of the two countries, and the choice of venue conforms to international maritime conduct," Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.

Monday also marks the 86th anniversary of the "September 18 Incident," the beginning of Japan's invasion of China in 1931. The PLA Daily ran a commentary Monday stressing remembrance of World War II history to better safeguard world peace and justice.

The Chinese and Russian navies will for the first time conduct joint submarine rescue exercises and anti-submarine drills involving multiple military service branches and an assortment of aircraft and ships.

Posted in: MILITARY

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