On Monday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) and the Russian Navy began the second stage of their Joint Sea 2017 military exercises.
The exercises are taking place in the Sea of Japan and, for the first time, the Okhotsk Sea.
These drills underline ongoing naval and military-to-military cooperation between the two countries. While Russia and China aren’t military allies, they increasingly coordinate on strategic matters.
According to Xinhua, China’s state news agency, the participating PLAN vessels include a Type 051C Luzhou-class missile destroyer, the Shijiazhuang; a Type 054A Jiangkai II-class missile frigate, the Daqing; a Type 903A supply ship, the Dongpinghu; and a submarine rescue ship, the Changdao.
The Chinese contingent also includes “a deep submersible rescue vehicle, two ship-borne helicopters and marines,” Xinhua noted.
The Russian Navy, meanwhile, sent “a large anti-submarine ship, a frigate, a rescue ship, a deep submersible rescue vehicle, two ship-borne helicopters and marines.”
The ongoing exercises will focus primarily on joint submarine rescue and anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The coastal phase of the exercise began on Monday in Vladivostok, according to PLA Daily.
The maritime phase of the exercises will take place starting on September 22 and last through September 26.
According to PLA Daily, the Chinese and Russian vessels would split up into two “mixed maritime tactical groups.” One group will be commanded by a Chinese crew and vessel while the other would be led by a Russian anti-submarine ship, the Admiral Tributs, an Udaloy-class destroyer.
Separately, the PLAN’s lone participating submarine rescue ship would join the Russian rescue ship Igor Belousov for submarine rescue drills.
Earlier this year, the two navies held the first phase of Joint Sea-2017 in the Baltic Sea for the first time.
Their naval exercises have taken on an increasingly global character, with recent iterations of the Joint Sea series having also taken place in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Joint Sea-2015 was partially held in the Sea of Japan.
Nevertheless, Chinese and Russian officials repeatedly emphasize that ongoing military coordination is not directed at any third country—be it the United States or Japan.
Relations between China and Russia have grown steadily closer since Xi Jinping entered office. Xi chose Moscow for his first overseas visit after becoming the Chinese president.
Lately, Russia and China have also cooperated on a range of global issues, including the North Korean question.
Both countries have jointly voiced their support for a “dual freeze” on the Korean Peninsula, where the United States and South Korea would scale back their military exercises in exchange for a North Korean cessation of nuclear and ballistic missile testing.