Newspaper article International New York Times

China and Russia to Hold Mediterranean Drills ; Joint Military Exercises Are a Sign of Deepening Ties between the Nations

Newspaper article International New York Times

China and Russia to Hold Mediterranean Drills ; Joint Military Exercises Are a Sign of Deepening Ties between the Nations

Article excerpt

The announcement of joint military exercises was a further sign of deepening ties between China and Russia, and of the Chinese Navy's increasing ambitions.

CORRECTION APPENDED

The Chinese Navy will hold joint exercises with Russia in the Mediterranean in May, China's Defense Ministry has said, a further indication of the closer ties between the two countries and of the navy's increasing ambitions.

Nine ships from the two countries will participate in the drills, including Chinese vessels now on United Nations antipiracy patrols in waters off the Horn of Africa, the Defense Ministry spokesman, Geng Yansheng, said Thursday at a monthly news briefing in Beijing. The drills will focus on navigation safety, at-sea replenishment, escort missions and live-fire exercises, he said.

"The aim is to deepen both countries' friendly and practical cooperation and increase our navies' ability to jointly deal with maritime security threats," Mr. Geng said. "These exercises are not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with the regional situation."

One of China's main military goals is to develop a navy that goes beyond coastal waters and can travel the world's oceans, and while military analysts said the drills in the Mediterranean appeared to be modest, they would be the farthest from home the Chinese Navy has done.

"The Chinese fleet has never made any exercises in the Mediterranean, and moreover, this is with Russia," said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

"The two countries want to show they have escalated their strategic partnership."

China's announcement came as the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was visiting Washington. He and President Obama declared that Japan and the United States would increase their military cooperation, a move that China criticized Wednesday.

With Russia's isolation from the West over the crisis in Ukraine, and with China's concern about a more intimate American-Japanese alliance, it suits President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to advertise their friendship, Professor Shi said.

"Russia wants to show the United States it is not isolated and can launch exercises near Eastern Europe," he said. "And as a result of Abe's visit to the United States and the upgraded Japan-American military relationship, Xi wants to show the United States he has good relations with Russia. …

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