China, Russia Start War Games

China, Russia Start War GamesChina, Russia Start War Games

In spite of tense regional debate over the South China Sea, the two countries are set to conduct joint drills. Moscow and Beijing have enjoyed increasingly close military cooperation in recent years.

China and Russia began eight days of joint naval exercises on Monday, as the two nations moved to fortify military cooperation. While China has maintained that the maneuvers do not target any specific third parties, their South China Sea setting has drawn criticism given the fierce territorial disputes in the region, AP reported.

The “Joint Sea-2016” war games aim to “consolidate and advance the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and deepen friendly and practical cooperation between the two militaries”, said Liang Yang, a spokesman for the Chinese Navy.

Russian media said 18 ships, including submarines and amphibious vehicles, as well as 21 aircraft and 250 military personnel from both sides would be participating in the exercise.

United in their wariness of the US and its allies, joint drills between Beijing and Moscow have become more frequent in the past four years. After a recent ruling by an arbitration panel in The Hague rejected China’s claim to nearly the whole South China Sea, Russia was also the only major country to back China in calling for western countries to stay out of regional disagreements.