China, Russia launch joint naval drills in Russian Far East

BEIJING (AP) — China and Russia are holding joint naval drills off the Russian Far East in the latest sign of their growing political and military alignment.

The exercises Joint Sea 2021 kicked off with a ceremony on Thursday in Russia’s Peter the Great Gulf and will run through Sunday.

Chinese state media said the drills would encompass communications, anti-mine, anti-air and anti-submarine operations, joint maneuvering and firing on seaborn targets.

While such exercises have been held before, the reports said this is the first time China has sent anti-submarine warfare planes and destroyers of more than 10,000 tons in displacement for exercises abroad.

China and Russia are united in opposing the dominant U.S. influence in global affairs and have been harsh critics of Washington’s foreign policy stumbles in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

While Beijing generally follows Moscow’s lead on matters such as Iran, it has grown increasingly assertive in defending what it considers its vital interests regarding Taiwan, the South China Sea and throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Beijing has strongly criticized an agreement for Australia to obtain a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines built with U.S. technology announced last month that is largely seen as a response to China’s vastly upgraded naval capabilities.

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