China, Russia launch S China Sea naval wargames

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Beijing—The Chinese and Russian navies launched eight days of war games in the South China Sea on Monday, in a sign of growing cooperation between their armed forces against the backdrop of regional territorial disputes.
The “Joint Sea-2016” maneuvers include surface ships, submarines, ship-borne helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, along with marines and amphibious armoured vehicles that will conduct live-firing exercises, according to a Defense Ministry statement.
Tasks will include defensive and rescue drills, anti-submarine exercises and the simulated seizure of an enemy island by marines from both sides.
The exercise is part of an annual programme, which “aims to consolidate and advance the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and deepen friendly and practical cooperation between the two militaries,” Chinese navy spokesman Liang Yang was quoted as saying.
“It will also improve coordination between the two navies on joint defence operations at sea,” Liang said.
The ministry didn’t say exactly where the drills would be held in the South China Sea, home to heated territorial disputes between China and its Southeast Asian neighbours.
Joint Chinese-Russian drills have grown increasingly common in recent years, the present exercises are the fifth between the two navies since 2012, with the countries joined in their mutual suspicion of the US and its allies.
Russia has been the only major country to speak out on China’s behalf in its demand that the US and other countries stay out of such arguments.—AP

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