Is­land land­ing

Chi­nese, Rus­sian navies wrap up drills in South China Sea

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE in the South China Sea an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Chi­nese and Rus­sian navies staged a mis­sion to seize an is­land on Sun­day as part of an eight-day ex­er­cise in the South China Sea.

As the key ele­ment of the an­nual drill, the navies dis­patched war­ships, marine forces, he­li­copters and am­phibi­ous ar­mored equip­ment for the mis­sion.

The ex­er­cise demon­strated the Chi­nese and Rus­sian navies’ ca­pac­i­ties in com­mand man­age­ment, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions co­or­di­na­tion, and in­tel­li­gence and in­for­ma­tion shar­ing, said Se­nior Cap­tain Li Xiang­dong, who com­manded the Chi­nese war­ships.

The mis­sion marked the end of the China-Rus­sia Joint Sea 2016 drill, which started on Sept 12 in east­ern waters off Zhan­jiang, the south­ern­most city in Guang­dong prov­ince and the base of the Nan­hai Fleet. A clos­ing cer­e­mony was to be held on Monday.

Com­pared with pre­vi­ous years, the 2016 drill fo­cused more on con­fronta­tional ca­pac­ity such as sur­face war­ships, sub­marines and land­based de­fenses, Li said, adding that the use of an ad­vanced com­mand sys­tem made com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the two navies smoother.

It was also the first time the China-Rus­sia joint ex­er­cise had been held in the South China Sea.

Rear Ad­mi­ral Yu Man­jiang, vice-com­man­der of the Nan­hai Fleet and com­man­der of the joint ex­er­cise, said the sea was a nat­u­ral choice for the drill as the two coun­tries have al­ready held ex­er­cises in China’s other waters.

“Some peo­ple and coun­tries are point­ing fin­gers at this ( joint drill), but this is not nec­es­sary at all,” he said, adding that it is an an­nual drill that does not tar­get a third party.

A. Maxim, a lieu­tenant cap­tain with the Rus­sian navy’s marine force, said the ex­er­cise had pro­moted mu­tual un­der­stand­ing be­tween the two navies.

Ten Chi­nese ships — de­stroy­ers, frigates, land­ing ships, sup­ply ships and sub­marines — took part in the drill as well as 11 fixed-wing air­craft, eight he­li­copters and 160 marines.

Also in­volved were Rus­sia’s large anti-sub­ma­rine ships Ad­mi­ral Tributs and Ad­mi­ral Vino­gradov, the large am­phibi­ous ship Peresvet, the sea tow­boat Alatau and the tanker Pechenga.

Cap­tain Sun Hao, who was in charge of the is­land-seiz­ing mis­sion, said the marine forces of both sides could un­der­stand each other de­spite the lan­guage bar­rier.

“I no­ticed that dur­ing the ex­er­cise that sol­diers from the two coun­tries could com­mu­ni­cate with body lan­guage, sim­ple English and even eye con­tact,” he said.

Ro­man Kosarev, a jour­nal­ist for Rus­sia Today who cov­ered the drill, agreed with Sun and added: “In­creas­ingly, lan­guage has not been a prob­lem.”

GAN JUN / FOR CHINA DAILY

The Chi­nese and Rus­sian navies stage a mis­sion to seize an is­land on Sun­day, mark­ing the end of the two coun­tries’ joint drill this year.

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