China, Russia to hold military exercise in Sea of Japan

China and Russia to hold naval drill in Sea of Japan amid soaring tension in waters surrounding Japan and China due to territorial claims

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Chinese Defense Ministry announced on Thursday that Beijing and Moscow navies will hold military drills in the Sea of Japan at the end of August in order to clinch already enhanced security cooperation between China and Russia.

The naval drill will be held from Aug. 20 to Aug. 28 between the Gulf of Peter the Great near the strategic Far Eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok and the Sea of Japan, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news release in Beijing.

Yang added that China will participate with its fighter jets, destroyers, frigates and supply vessels in the drill which includes anti-submarine and anti-ship exercises, while Russians plan to dispatch ships, submarines and fixed-wing aircraft.

Both Beijing and Moscow have recently increased their military and security ties since Russia has come under severe criticism and political-economic pressure by the West in the wake of annexation of Crimea and ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Russia and China have launched a military drill in the Mediterranean and that the parties also held military exercise in the South China Sea in the past months this year.  

The Russo-Chinese joint move just came after Japan released its annual defence paper last week which raised Tokyo’s security concerns over Chinese and Russian assertiveness in and around the seas surrounding Japan.

Japan’s Defence Ministry last week highlighted its concerns over China’s recent political and military presence in both East and South China Seas where Beijing has long been exploring energy resources and claiming some territorial rights through building artificial islands.

Tokyo asserted that Beijing was acting "unilaterally and without compromise" in order to change status quo in the region via its increasing maritime activities.

But, China’s Foreign Ministry claimed that Japan’s defence strategy paper entitled as "Defense of Japan 2015," but briefly known as the “white paper,” would only serve to create tension between the parties.

The Chinese Defence Ministry further accused Japan of being “two-faced” in its foreign policy and stated that China has the rights to respond to a "necessary reaction depending on the situation" over Japan’s white paper claims.

China’s efforts to redefine its territorial waters were increased last year when Beijing commenced to build seven artificial islands near by the Spratly archipelagos where coastal states in the South China Sea severely objected Chinese maritime expansion.

However, Japan and China have been confronting on some uninhabited islets that were previously controlled by Beijing, but nationalised by Tokyo in 2012 to which Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu in the East China Sea.

Japan is also concerned with Russia’s activities in the Sea of Okhotsk and Sea of Japan where Tokyo and Moscow have long been claiming territorial and maritime rights over the Kurile islands since the end of the Second World War.

The Russo-Japanese spat over the islets known as the Kuriles by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan has been sourcing from the Soviet occupation during the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation at the end of World War II.

As being a chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Okhotsk between Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, the Kuriles constitute the backbone of Russia’s territorial and maritime disputes with Japan.

Russia has recently increased its military presence on the disputed islands which sparked Japan’s outrage since Tokyo has long been claiming that the Kurils were part of its territorial integrity and demanding the return of the archipelagos.

The Kurils consist of several large and small islands, but Tokyo has claim only over the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai.

The genesis of territorial claims and maritime disputes between Tokyo and Moscow can be traced back to the 1904 Russo-Japanese War, at a time when Russia was defeated by Japan and left the southern part of the Kurils, including Sakhalin island to the sovereignty of Tokyo.

As a response to the long-envisaged Russian-Chinese security partnership, Japan increased its efforts to cooperate with its Pacific allies, such as the US, Australia and India, all of which put their reserves on China’s maritime activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Japan has already launched joint military drills with the US, Australia and the Philippines and that India has recently announced that the US and Japan are set to take part in a joint naval wargame in Indian Ocean in October.

Japan’s decision to participate to India’s Malabar naval drill has long been riling China which regards the Japanese act to take part with India and the US as a move of “containment” of its presence in the region.


TRTWorld, Reuters