China and Russia’s third joint naval patrol that allegedly reached international waters near Alaska last week has touched the nerves of US media, which hyped the voyage as “highly provocative,” ignoring the fact that the US constantly sends warships and warplanes to China’s doorsteps for close-in reconnaissance and military exercises under the so-called freedom of navigation.

11 Chinese and Russian vessels approached the Aleutian Islands and have since left without entering US territorial waters, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday, citing US officials.

Four US destroyers and a P-8 maritime patrol aircraft shadowed the combined Chinese and Russian naval force, the report said.

While the WSJ report quoted a US Northern Command spokesperson who said the patrol remained in international waters and was not considered a threat, it also quoted US experts as saying the voyage “is a historical first” and “highly provocative.”

The US media reports came after China’s Ministry of National Defense announced on July 26 that China and Russia would soon launch their third joint naval patrol, which would see both sides’ warships sail into West and North Pacific waters following the Northern/Interaction-2023 joint exercises in the Sea of Japan.

The operation is not targeted against any third party and is not related to any international or regional situation, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a press release at the time.Two Type 052D guided missile destroyers, two Type 054A guided missile frigates and a Type 903 comprehensive replenishment ship of the Chinese Navy are included in the flotilla, while the Russian Navy is represented by vessels including large anti-submarine ships and corvettes, according to media reports.

The Northern/Interaction-2023 joint exercises and the subsequent joint naval patrol fully reflect the level of the strategic mutual trust between the two countries and further enhanced the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Russian militaries, said Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson at China’s Defense Ministry, at a regular press conference on July 27.

China is willing to continue to boost pragmatic communication and cooperation with all parties and contribute positive forces in safeguarding regional peace and stability as well as deal with all kinds of security threats, Tan said.

Despite that China and Russia announced the joint patrol, US media are attempting to hype the “China and Russia threat” theory, Zhuo Hua, an international affairs expert at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy of Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday.

The China-Russia joint patrol in international waters in the North and West Pacific marks a positive force that helps safeguard regional stability and security of strategic routes in the Asia-Pacific region at a time when the US is enhancing combat readiness, rallying allies and partners in the region to change defense policies and expand militaries, which escalated regional tensions, Zhuo said.