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Russia-China Naval Exercise Underway in South China Sea

Sept. 15, 2016 (EIRNS)—Three warships of the Russian Pacific Fleet have joined with the Chinese PLA Navy for "Joint Sea 2016," an exercise which runs through Sept. 19 in the South China Sea. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said today that the exercise should help strengthen stability in the region, rather than destabilize it, according to a report in Tass.

"We believe that all actions which take place there must be pondered, balanced and not add instability, but rather work on strengthening stability and mutual understanding to solve conflicts,"

she said.

In addition to the three warships, the Russians have sent two supply ships, two helicopters and a contingent of 96 marines. They join ten Chinese vessels, including destroyers, frigates, landing ships, supply ships and submarines, as well as eleven fixed-wing aircraft, eight helicopters and 160 marines. Xinhua reports that the two sides will undertake joint air defense, anti-submarine operations, coordinated three-dimensional island seizing, search and rescue, landing and examining and weapon use.

In an obvious dig at the United States and certain of its allies, Zhang Junshe, senior research fellow of the Military and Academic Institute of the Chinese Navy, told Xinhua that the joint exercise is

"essentially defensive and totally different from the island landing and retaking drills that a few countries engage in year after year in the West Pacific region against an imaginary enemy."

He added that "an exercise on such subjects can only be operated between navies with a high level of mutual trust."

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