Russia and China have agreed to hold joint drills in the South China on September 12-19, TASS reported on August 22, citing Vladimir Matveyev, a spokesman for the Russian Pacific Fleet.
According to Matveyev, organized efforts to protect merchant ships in the reion will be the main focus of the exercises. The sides will also practice in landing on islands.
Some Chinese state-linked analysts and media outlets depict the Russian involvement in the exercises as an endorsement of Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. However, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, the drills are “not directed against third countries.”