China and Russia are set to conduct joint naval exercises in the East China Sea amid regional tension with Japan over a disputed group of islands and airspace.
According to Army Times, an announcement on the Chinese Defense Ministry website on Thursday said “Jointly At Sea 2014” exercises would kick off in Shanghai toward the end of May.
These drills, the announcement said, would “deepen practical cooperation and boost their abilities to work together to respond to seaborne threats.”
As Army Times notes, there are several uninhabited islands in the East China Sea which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China. At regular intervals, China sends patrol boats to confront Japanese coast guard vessels that are operating in the area.
Some of the Senkaku Islands (known as Diaoyu in China) were nationalized by Japan in 2012.
China recently announcement the establishment of an air defense zone which covers a majority of the airspace above the islands, Army Times said.