China and Russia will soon launch their third joint naval patrol, which will see both sides’ warships sail into West and North Pacific waters following the Northern/Interaction-2023 joint exercises in the Sea of Japan.
Experts said that the voyage could reach the Bering Sea and display the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s far sea capabilities amid the largest ever joint military exercise held by 13 countries including the US, Australia, the UK, Canada and Japan in Australia targeting China.
In accordance with an annual cooperation schedule between the Chinese and Russian militaries, the two countries’ navies will hold a joint naval patrol in West and North Pacific waters recently, China’s Ministry of National Defense said in a press release on Wednesday.
The operation is not targeted against any third party and is not related to any international or regional situation, the press release read.
It marks the third joint naval patrol between the two countries. The first joint patrol came after the Joint Sea-2021 naval drills in 2021, which saw Chinese and Russian navies form a joint flotilla and sail across the Sea of Japan, the West Pacific and the East China Sea in seven days, marking a complete circumnavigation around Japan. The other came after the Russia-led Vostok-2022 strategic drills in 2022, which saw the two countries’ vessels reaching the Bering Sea in addition to the West Pacific.
China and Russia successfully wrapped up the four-day Northern/Interaction-2023 joint exercises in the Sea of Japan on Sunday. The Chinese side reportedly sent the Type 052D guided missile destroyers Qiqihar and Guiyang, the Type 054A guided missile frigates Zaozhuang and Rizhao, and the Type 903 comprehensive replenishment ship Taihu, while the Russian side sent the large anti-submarine ships Admiral Tribunts and Admiral Panteleev as well as the corvettes Gremyashy and Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov.
It was expected that a joint naval and air patrol would follow the exercise, which practiced anti-sea mine, anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine operations under the theme of safeguarding strategic maritime routes.
Chinese military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping told the Global Times on Wednesday that the joint naval patrol could start from the Sea of Japan, stretch into the Pacific Ocean and even reach the Bering Sea.
Australia is currently hosting the Talisman Sabre 2023 military exercise, which features 13 countries including the US, Australia, the UK, Canada and Japan. Top US naval official Carlos Del Toro pointed to China as a focus of the drill.
Facing such threats, the PLA should display its open ocean capabilities, Song said.
The North Pacific is not that far away from China, and the China-Russia joint naval patrol is conducive to the safeguarding of strategic routes in the Bering Sea, Song said.