China-Russia-Iran joint military drill cautions US: analyst
Published: Dec 26, 2019 09:04 PM

File Photo: Xinhua 

Chinese Navy, together with their Russian and Iranian counterparts, will conduct a four-day military drill on the Gulf of Oman starting Friday, which analysts said would improve China's ability in responding to security challenges in distant oceans and help safeguard stability in the Persian Gulf amid escalating tensions. 

The exercise aims to deepen the cooperation between the navies of the three countries, and conveys a goodwill gesture, said Wu Qian, spokesperson of Chinese Defense Ministry, during Thursday's routine press conference, adding that the joint exercise will also exhibit China's ability to maintain world peace and maritime security. 

China will send the Xining, a Type 052D guided missile destroyer, to join the drills. The warship was with China's 33rd fleet that escorts civilian ships in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia.   

The Gulf of Oman is a sensitive place and also vital to global energy transport, and its situation "could largely affect China's economy and security," said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and commentator.

The Gulf of Oman links with Strait of Hormuz, a passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.  

Strengthening military cooperation through such exercises will also help bolster China's own economy, energy, and national security, besides safeguarding the regional transportation and energy channels, Song told the Global Times on Thursday, noting it is important for China to boost its overseas escort strategy. 

Such a drill also improves the capabilities of the Chinese Liberation Army (PLA) in counter-terrorism, anti-pirate and humanitarian missions, Song said. 

The joint drill shows China and Russia, two major responsible world powers, are supporting Iran in the Iran nuclear deal after the US' withdrawal in mid-2018. 

The trilateral drill is the first of its kind at a time when Iran is facing  unprecedented sanctions from the US, the Associated Press reported. The US has sent a number of American troops to the region and additional missile defense systems in Saudi Arabia amid attacks on oil vessels, heightening tensions in the Persian Gulf over the past months. 

Song believes the joint drill will de-escalate the regional tension as two influential countries are standing together to safeguard peace and stability of the Persian Gulf. "Such a gesture urges the US not to launch military actions unilaterally or put more pressure on Iran," he said. 

The move sent a clear signal to the US: the Iran issue should be addressed through negotiations based on the previous deal rather than military actions. The US should stop fanning the flames, Song said.