While the Philippines and its allies are teaming up for military drills in the highly contested area in the South China Sea, China is also tapping Russia for its naval exercise.
On Thursday, China announced its plan to hold a joint naval drill with Russia in September aimed at strengthening the two countries’ cooperation. But China was quick to add that the planned drill is in no way aimed against any country, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Weeks after the controversial ruling from the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague was issued, which favored the Philippines, China has become more relentless in asserting its claim in most of the vast maritime zone. The ruling, which virtually favored the Philippines, declared China’s self-imposed nine-dash line rule as having no legal basis.
Yang Yujun, a spokesperson for China’s defense ministry, on Thursday said that the planned military drill between the two nations is aimed at strengthening their cooperation. Yujun emphasized that the drill would solely be intended to enhance military cooperation between the two nations and will not be targeting any country.
But in a separate report from Reuters, Josh Earnest, spokesperson for the White House, said he has no idea what type of drill the two countries are planning. Earnest, however, said that the United States was not surprised to hear about the planned military drill.
The U.S., along with Japan, has been holding joint military exercises with the Philippines even before the July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
“I’m not surprised that Russia and China are seeking to build upon their military-to-military relationship as well. We’re not concerned about the safety of U.S. vessels in the region as long as interactions with the Chinese remain safe and professional, which has been the case in most cases,” Earnest was quoted as saying by Reuters.