Are China and Russia Holding Joint Military Drills in the South China Sea?

by Ahmad Bilal Khalil | July 7, 2016 | The Diplomat

China and Russia are purportedly considering holding their joint annual naval exercise, Joint-Sea 2016, in the South China Sea this September, China Military Online reports.

At a press conference on June 30, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said that both countries are currently reviewing the details of the upcoming drill without providing additional information.

However, given that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) North and East Sea Fleets hosted previous Sino-Russian naval drills, it appears likely that this year’s iteration of the Joint-Sea exercise will be hosted by the Nanhai [South Sea] Fleet, the PLAN fleet responsible for the South China Sea.

This is at least what China’s state-owned media is speculating:

In previous exercises when China served as the host, the directing fleets were the North China Sea Fleet and the East China Sea Fleet respectively. Therefore, this time it is very likely that the South China Sea Fleet will take its turn as the main power, and the location might be near the South China Sea as well (…).

China and Russia have conducted six joint naval exercises since 2005. China first served as the host for the annual Joint-Sea drill in 2012. In 2015, Beijing and Moscow “held naval and amphibious assault exercises in the Sea of Japan, a smaller naval drill in the Mediterranean, among a number of other bilateral military exchanges. Both countries have also participated in trilateral, and multilateral exercises, for example, under the umbrella of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO),” I reported in April. Read more




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