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China, Russia embark on largest ever military operation to wrest control of South China Sea

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The largest ever joint military operation between China and Russia has begun as both nations openly claim they are intent on seizing control of a hotly disputed stretch of the South China Sea.

China and Russia’s military operation, ‘Joint Sea-2016’, includes eight days of “seizing and controlling” islands and shoals, entrenching island defenses, conducting anti-submarine operations and live fire drills.

The two countries have teamed up for the ambitious operation to control the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in annual trade passes.

The military move is likely to anger US officials who regularly sail military ships through the region in a bid to assert the right to freedom of navigation.

South China Sea

A hotly contested area, $5 trillion in annual trade passes through South China Sea

The operation, taking place off the southern coast of Guangdong province, near the city of Zhanjiang, involves surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters, marine corps and amphibious armored equipment.

Chinese navy spokesman Liang Yang released a statement claiming that Joint-Sea 2016 is aimed at “strengthening the capabilities of the Chinese and Russian Navies in jointly handling security threats on the sea.”

He added: “Compared with previous joint drills, these exercises are deeper and more extensive in terms of organization, tasks and command.”

Military Ceremony

Chinese naval forces held a welcome ceremony ahead of Joint Sea 2016

Last year, close military allies China and Russia, held joint exercises in both the Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean.

China claims 85 percent of the contested waters and attempted earlier this year to build a series of man-made islands and waterways across the region, which had been intended for military use.

But in July, a UN-backed tribunal, in a case brought by the Philippines, ruled that China had no legal basis for claiming ownership of the disputed waters.

Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have competing claims over the islands and their surrounding waters.

At the time of the ruling, Beijing claimed that China would take a “decisive response” if another country took “any provocative action against China’s security interests based on the award”.




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Sydney Chesterfield

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