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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin attended the launch of the week-long China-Russia joint naval drills in the East China Sea off Shanghai on Tuesday.
In what would be a first for the Chinese navy, the drill would see both forces mingle their troops and not march separately, a sign indicative of the growing political and military trust between the two countries.
All Chinese and Russian vessels in the joint exercise are mixed into three different groups, and are commanded by both Chinese and Russian commanders.
Navies of the two countries will join forces to simulate anchorage defense, maritime assaults, anti-submarine combats, air defense as well as identification, rescue and escort missions.
A total of 14 vessels, two submarines, nine fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and special forces are taking part in the “Joint Sea-2014” exercise.
Xi said the joint exercise would showcase the two sides’ resolve in responding to threats and challenges as well as safeguarding regional security and stability.
It would also display the new level of strategic mutual trust and coordination between the two countries, he said.
The East China Sea nestles the contested group of islands called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japan, to which both Beijing and Tokyo lay claim.
Putin, meanwhile, noted that the military ties are an important part of the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination.
The China-Russia joint naval exercise is the third of its kind after joint drills off the coast of Russia’s Far East in July 2013 and the Yellow Sea in April 2012.