UPDATE: China announces joint naval drills with Russia, South Africa to safeguard sea transport, maritime economic activities
Published: Feb 17, 2023 09:46 PM Updated: Feb 19, 2023 03:40 PM
Destroyer Jinan of Chinese navy (front) and cruiser Varyag of Russian navy are seen during a joint naval exercise, Joint Sea 2022, in the East China Sea on Dec. 21, 2022. Chinese and Russian navies on Wednesday kicked off a joint naval exercise, Joint Sea 2022, in the East China Sea.(Photo: Xinhua)

Destroyer Jinan of Chinese navy (front) and cruiser Varyag of Russian navy are seen during a joint naval exercise, Joint Sea 2022, in the East China Sea on Dec. 21, 2022. Chinese and Russian navies on Wednesday kicked off a joint naval exercise, Joint Sea 2022, in the East China Sea. (Photo: Xinhua)

China's Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that the second joint naval exercise between China, Russia and South Africa will be held from Monday to February 27, aiming to safeguard sea transport and maritime economic activities amid the intensive efforts of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) to restore exchanges and cooperation with foreign countries, including opening a destroyer to the public at an international expo in Abu Dhabi, after such interactions were hindered by the pandemic in recent years.
Amid the hypes from Western countries which claimed that such exercise is "controversial," Chinese analysts stressed that China has its free will to conduct joint drills with any friendly countries, and that the exercise will contribute to peace and stability in the region and the protection of sea lanes for commercial ships, and is not related to conflicts or tensions elsewhere in the world.

According to agreements reached by China, Russia and South Africa, the navies of the three countries will start their second joint naval exercise in sea and air regions east of South Africa's Durban and the Richards Bay from February 20 to February 27, China’s Ministry of National Defense said in a press release on Sunday.
The theme of this exercise is a joint security operation on safeguarding sea transport and maritime economic activities, the ministry said.
The Type 052D destroyer Huainan, the Type 054A frigate Rizhao and the Type 903A comprehensive replenishment ship Kekexilihu of the PLA Navy's 42nd escort task force will participate in the drills, according to the press release.
It is conducive to further promoting cooperation in the fields of defense and security among BRICS members, and enhancing all participating parties’ capabilities in jointly safeguarding maritime security, read the press release.
Codenamed Mosi-2, the joint naval exercise was scheduled to begin in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa on Friday, said South Africa's Defense Ministry, Russian news agency TASS reported on the day.

The trilateral exercise will benefit all participating countries by aligning their operational naval systems and improving joint command and control, Tass quoted South Africa's Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Thandi Modise as saying.

The drills will run until February 27, with China sending a destroyer, a frigate and a support ship, South Africa represented by a frigate and two support ships, and Russia deploying a frigate and a tanker, according to Tass, which also noted that the Russian frigate will demonstrate the Zircon hypersonic missile.

It is the second time the three countries have held a joint naval exercise, with the first one held in November 2019 in the southwest of South Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, reported Tass.

The joint drills will contribute to peace and stability in the region, as the three countries have common interests in protecting sea lanes involving key commercial activities in the Indian Ocean from piracy and other security threats, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Friday.

Western countries and their media have been hyping the exercise as "controversial," citing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, South Africa's refusal to condemn and impose sanctions on Russia, and tensions over the Taiwan question.

But these are just accusations that the West has made against this peacefully intended exercise, the expert said.

The drill is not related to any other ongoing situation, and it is also very normal for China to conduct joint exercises with friendly countries, the expert said.

Also on Friday, the PLA Navy's Type 052D guided missile destroyer Nanning arrived in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, to participate in the Naval Defense and Maritime Security Exhibition (NAVDEX) under the invitation of the UAE military.

The Nanning will conduct friendly interactions including seminars, visits and sports competitions with the navy of the UAE and vessels from other countries participating in NAVDEX, and will be open to the general public, Senior Colonel Liu Wensheng, a PLA Navy spokesperson, announced on Thursday.

The Nanning is part of the PLA Navy's 43rd naval escort task force to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia, and has just participated in the AMAN-23 multinational maritime exercise, which was hosted by Pakistan and attended by some 50 countries from February 10 to Tuesday.

Intensive foreign interactions, including participation in joint drills and international exhibitions, show that the PLA is proactively boosting its military exchange and cooperation with other countries in the post-COVID era, as it continues to open to the world, providing positive factors to enhance understanding and manage differences, experts said.