Posted March. 31, 2012 05:44,
Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00
China and Russia plan to conduct a large-scale joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea in April and May apparently to counter U.S.-led drills with South Korea and Japan that have grown frequent since the announcement of Washington`s "return to Asia" policy.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a news briefing Thursday that Beijing and Moscow will carry out the joint exercise, which is aimed at deepening the Sino-Russian strategic partnership of cooperation and enhancing their capabilities for responding to new challenges and threats.
Russia`s Itar-Tass news agency said the drill is scheduled for April 22-29. China did not specify the dates, however.
Sources say the exercise will likely be the largest bilateral joint military exercise since they were made regular in 2005. The two countries will mobilize major operational naval vessels.
Russia plans to mobilize a fleet of about 10 ships, including a large anti-submarine vessel, missile cruiser, destroyer and escort vessel.
The size of the Chinese fleet is unknown, but Beijing is also expected to mobilize 10 vessels including a missile destroyer, escort vessel, submarine and aerial forces from the North Sea Fleet. China has been significantly upgrading its air power by replacing the bombers of the fleet`s Dalian-based aviation unit with new models.
Considering that Beijing and Moscow mobilized some 10,000 troops in their 2005 joint exercise, more troops are expected to participate in next month`s drill.
The Dongfang Daily of Shanghai reported that the scale of Russia`s participation is the largest in bilateral joint exercises, adding the size of China`s troops and equipment in a joint drill with another country in the western Pacific was also unprecedented. While Russia said the joint exercise was aimed at raising bilateral military cooperation only and not toward other countries, the drill will put the U.S. and Japan on alert.
Russian vessels will depart from Vladivostok and join Chinese naval vessels off the Shandong Peninsula via the East Sea and the Korea Strait. Beijing and Moscow will also conduct an operation to seize regional air superiority as well as anti-submarine and air defense drills.
Experts say Chinese and Russian vessels will likely enter the Yellow Sea after gathering at Vladivostok.
The Sino-Russian naval exercise is timed with the South Korea-U.S. Foal Eagle drill, but the timing is interpreted as China and Russia`s clarification that they will not be overtaken by the U.S in maritime dominancy in Northeast Asia. Chinese media say the exercise is aimed at sending a clear message to the U.S. via muscle flexing as the U.S. strategy toward Asia threatens the interests of China and Russia.
Separately, the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said Beijing was developing new equipment, including an aircraft carrier, through research and exercises under a plan to strengthen its naval forces.