Asia Minute: China, Russia to Hold Joint Naval Exercises in South China Sea

Jul 29, 2016

Credit Wikipedia Commons

The Rim of the Pacific military exercises in and around Hawai‘i will wrap up next week. The five weeks of RIMPAC make up the largest maritime exercise in the world—involving more than two-dozen countries this year. But another set of ocean maneuvers will soon get attention thousands of miles away. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

China and Russia will be conducting joint military exercises in the South China Sea this September.  China’s Defense Ministry announced the plans—with very few details about their size, location and precise timing.  A spokesman called the drills “routine”….adding that they will be conducted in the “relevant sea and air of the South China Sea.” 

The two countries have held joint naval exercises of varying sizes over the past several years in different locations.  Last August more than 20 ships took part in drills off Russia’s Pacific coast.  Closer to Hawai‘i, China sent its biggest delegation yet to this year’s RIMPAC--with 5 ships and 12,000 personnel largely taking part in disaster response drills.

Russia was not invited to this year’s RIMPAC—although a Russian destroyer did show up in international waters near Hawai‘i a couple of weeks ago….and U-S Pacific Command says a Russian spy ship was lingering in a similar location just before RIMPAC got underway.  In 2014, a Chinese spy ship was observed in international waters off Hawai‘i during the last RIMPAC—which is held every other year.  Russia last took part in RIMPAC in 2012…declining an invitation in 2014---the same year it annexed the Crimea Peninsula of Ukraine.