BEIJING, July 6 (Xinhuanet) -- A Chinese naval task force arrived in Vladivostok on Friday to join Russia for the largest-ever naval drill in the region.
Chief naval directors from both nations stressed that the drill was not "targeting any third party" but was designed to better safeguard the two countries' interests and tackle common challenges.
Faced with "similar maritime threats", the two sides aimed to strengthen maritime security, said Ding Yiping, deputy commander of the navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
The drills, titled "Joint Sea 2013", will last until July 12
"We've repeated several times that the drills are not targeted at any third party, and some people's speculation about the exercises only shows their lack of confidence," said Ding, China's chief director in the exercise, at a welcoming ceremony held by Russia's Pacific Fleet at the Golden Horn Bay.
Calling the arrival of the Chinese fleet "historic", Deputy Chief of the Russian Navy Main Staff Leonid Sukhanov said the naval drill will further the two nations' ties.
"We are able to meet any aggression and challenges on the sea," Sukhanov said. As Russia's chief director, he also joined the first China-Russia naval drill held last year in the Yellow Sea.
This month's naval exercise will be held in Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok and marks the first time that the Chinese navy has participated in a drill in the Sea of Japan. It is also its largest-ever naval drill abroad with a foreign partner, Ding said.
"This is just the beginning, and definitely not the last one," he said.
Officials and observers said the naval drill signals a strengthening of Sino-Russian military trust and coordination. It may also set precedence for future joint drills on a regular basis.
The Chinese navy dispatched three new types of shipborne helicopters, a special operations detachment as well as warships from its North Sea Fleet and the South Sea Fleet that include four destroyers, two guided missile frigates and a supply ship.
Eleven warships, including the flagship of Russia's Pacific Fleet, the Slava-class guided missile cruiser Varyag, a submarine and three aircraft from the Russian navy will participate in the drill, which will focus on joint maritime air defense, joint escorts and maritime search and rescue operations.
During the eight days, both navies will work together to direct and command the drill, Ding said.
They will also take live ammunition exercises, and stage a number of sporting competitions and culture performances, said Yang Junfei, commander of the Chinese fleet.
(Source: China Daily)