China and Russia are to hold “routine” naval exercises in the South China Sea in September, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday, adding that the drills were aimed at strengthening their cooperation and were not aimed at any other nation.
The exercises come at a time of heightened tension in the contested waters after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled this month that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea and criticized its environmental destruction there.
China refused to participate in the case and rejected the ruling.
“This is a routine exercise between the two armed forces, aimed at strengthening the developing China-Russia strategic cooperative partnership,” ministry spokesman General Yang Yujun (楊宇軍) told a regular monthly news conference in Beijing. “The exercise is not directed against third parties.”
China and Russia are members of the UN Security Council and have held similar views on many major issues, such as the crisis in Syria, putting them at odds with the US and Western Europe.
Last year, they held joint military drills in the Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest played down the significance of the exercises, even though he conceded that the South China Sea was “a sensitive diplomatic topic right now.”
“I don’t know what exercises they are planning, but in the same way the United States and China have a military-to-military relationship, I’m not surprised that Russia and China are seeking to build upon their military-to-military relationship as well,” Earnest told a regular briefing.
China has recently taken part in US-led multinational naval drills in the Pacific and a US defense official said he did not expect the China-Russia exercises to affect US military activity or behavior in the South China Sea.
“We’re not concerned about the safety of US vessels in the region as long as interactions with the Chinese remain safe and professional, which has been the case in most cases,” the official said.
China claims most of the South China Sea. Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines have rival claims.
China has repeatedly blamed the US for stoking tension in the region through its military patrols and of taking sides in the dispute.
Yang said China and Russia were comprehensive strategic partners and had already held many exercises this year.
“These drills deepen mutual trust and expand cooperation, raise the ability to jointly deal with security threats, and benefit the maintenance of regional and global peace and stability,” he said.
CALL FOR PEACE: Czech President Petr Pavel raised concerns about China’s military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait and its ‘unfriendly action’ in the South China Sea The leaders of three diplomatic allies — Guatemala, Paraguay and Palau — on Tuesday voiced support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN on the first day of the UN General Debate in New York. In his address during the 78th UN General Assembly, Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr urged the UN and all parties involved in cross-strait issues to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful resolution. “The well-being and prosperity of nations and their economies are intrinsically linked to global peace and stability,” he said. He also thanked partner nations such as Taiwan, Australia, Japan and the US for providing assistance
CROSS-STRAIT CONCERNS: At the same US Congress hearing, Mira Resnick said a US government shutdown could affect weapons sales and licenses to allies such as Taiwan A Chinese blockade of Taiwan would be a “monster risk” for Beijing and likely to fail, while a military invasion would be extremely difficult, senior Pentagon officials told the US Congress on Tuesday. Growing worries of a conflict come as China has ramped up military pressure on Taiwan, holding large-scale war games simulating a blockade on the nation, while conducting near-daily warplane incursions and sending Chinese vessels around its waters. US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said a blockade would be “a monster risk for the PRC [People’s Republic of China].” “It would likely not succeed, and it
IMPORTS: Fifty-four million imported eggs with a value of more than NT$200 million had to be destroyed, mostly because they expired in storage facilities Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) last night announced that he would resign from his post. Local media on Sunday reported that Chen had resigned due to controversy over the ministry’s egg import program. Later that same evening, the Executive Yuan said that Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) had asked the minister to stay on to resolve the issue. Chen Chi-chung last night made public his decision to resign on Facebook, saying that this time he would not be dissuaded. Chen Chi-chung earlier yesterday apologized for the furor surrounding the egg import program, but added that misinformation had made the problems worse. The government was
AMPHIBIOUS EXERCISES: The defense ministry said that it had detected 24 Chinese PLA Air Force planes entering Taiwan’s air defense zone over the previous 24 hours Chinese movements around Taiwan were “abnormal,” Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday, flagging recent amphibious exercises in addition to drills Taipei has observed in China’s Fujian Province. Taiwan has reported a rise in Chinese military activity over the past week as dozens of fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships, have operated around the nation. “Our initial analysis is that they are doing joint drills in September, including land, sea, air and amphibious,” Chiu told reporters at the legislature in Taipei. The “recent enemy situation is quite abnormal,” he said. The comments followed a statement from the