China and Russia are beginning joint
naval drills which Beijing has
described as the country's largest
with a foreign partner.
The drills, which are taking place in the
Sea of Japan, last from 5-12 July.
People's Liberation Army chief Gen Fang
Fenghui said on Tuesday the drills did
not "target any third parties", but aimed
to deepen ties with Russia.
However they come amid tensions with
regional neighbours including Japan and
the Philippines over maritime disputes.
China has overlapping claims with Tokyo
and Manila in the East China and South
China Sea respectively - something which
has led to a marked deterioration in ties
in recent years as China has pressed its
claim more assertively.
Last month the US and Japanese navies
held joint exercises off San Diego.
Earlier this week, China's Defence
Ministry said the drills marked the navy's
"single biggest deployment of military
force in a China-foreign joint exercise".
"Assertions have been made that this
drill has a symbolic significance in terms
of safeguarding the sovereignty of islands
in the area, and represents a response to
the US-Japan alliance," Communist Party
newspaper People's Daily wrote on
But, the paper said, it was part of series
of routine exercises, with the drill
focusing on joint escort and the recovery
of kidnapped vessels.
"There will be no aggressive element to
the joint drill," it said.
The Chinese fleet comprises four
destroyers, two guided missile frigates
and a support ship, Chinese state media
The fleet left its base on Monday in
China's Qingdao port for the Peter the
Great Bay in Russia.
Meanwhile, Russia is expected to deploy
11 warships, a submarine and three
planes during the drills, reports say.
China and Russia conducted naval drills
for the first time last year. Both countries
have participated in military exercises