Reuters reports (via The Sydney Morning Herald), May 1, 2014, that on April 30, China said it would conduct joint naval drills with Russia in the East China Sea off Shanghai in late May, in what it called a bid to deepen military co-operation.
China’s defense ministry did not give an exact location in the East China Sea, where Beijing is locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with Japan over the ownership of a group of uninhabited islets called Senkaku by Japanese and Diaoyu by Chinese.
“These drills are regular exercises held by China and Russia’s navies, and the purpose is to deepen practical co-operation between the two militaries, to raise the ability to jointly deal with maritime security threats,” the ministry said on its website. It provided no other details.
China alarmed Japan, South Korea and the United States last year when it announced an air defense identification zone for the East China Sea, covering the Senkaku islands.
The Beijing government, which is swiftly ramping up military spending, has regularly dispatched patrols to the East China Sea since it established the defense zone.
China was angered last week after US President Barack Obama assured ally Japan that Washington was committed to its defense, including the disputed isles. (See “Obama makes promises to Japan and South Korea“)
Earlier this month, Tokyo announced it would break ground on a new radar base on Yonaguni island close to Taiwan and the Senkakus. (See “Japan expands its military footprint for first time in 40 years to counter China“)
China and Russia have close diplomatic, security and economic ties, and regularly carry out military exercises together.