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China, Russia conclude bilateral naval drill

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A naval vessel and aircraft during fleet review of Russia-China joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea of the Pacific Ocean on April 26, 2012. A Chinese MoD/Xinuha photo

BEIJING/MOSCOW (BNS): In a show of strength and solidarity amidst escalating tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, China and Russia have concluded a "high profile" joint naval drill in the Yellow Sea off the coast of the Chinese eastern port city of Qingdao.

The joint wargames, involving over 20 warships along with fighter aircraft, helicopters and support vessels from both the sides, concluded a live ammunition exercise on Thursday, following a no-weapon joint war game earlier the same day, the Chinese Defence Ministry said, terming the exercises a success.

The wargames, which began on April 22, officially conclude on Friday.

Beijing and Moscow had agreed to hold the joint exercises during a visit by the chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Chen Bingde, to Russia last year.

"The conclusion of the drill marks the end of the live sea exercise of the April 22-27 naval exercise between Russia and China, which is the seventh between Russian and Chinese armed forces since 2003," the Chinese Defence Ministry said.

While China had deployed a total of 16 naval ships and two submarines for the naval drill, the Russia Navy had sent four of its warships, including guided missile cruiser Varyag and three large anti-submarine ships, to take part in the drill which comes at a time of increased tensions in the Asia Pacific region over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

China claims the entire South China Sea and the islands, believed to be rich with oil and gas resources, as its own. Several other countries in the region, including Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan, also stake claim over the resource-rich waters.

The timing of the China-Russia drills coincided with the US-Philippine naval exercises that began near disputed South China Sea waters on April 16. The US troops had also held exercises with South Korean military recently.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Tuesday the exercise was not directed against "third states" and was not an attempt by Moscow and Beijing to forge a military alliance, Ria Novosti reported.

China and Russia have been conducting bilateral military drills since 2005 within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The just-concluded drills were the first exercise involving the navies of both the countries.

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China  Russia  Wargame  
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