A month after extensive military drills around the Taiwan Strait, the People’s Liberation Army sent a stern signal to its adversaries in the West. China has now begun patrols in the Pacific with its key ally Russia in an unpredictable move.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced on September 15 that Russian and Chinese warships kicked off the second joint patrolling of the Pacific region. The patrols come a few days after Moscow concluded Vostok 2022 military drills, which saw enhanced cooperation between the two sides.
“As part of the implementation of the program of international military cooperation, warships of the Russian Navy and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Naval Forces are conducting a second joint patrolling in the Pacific Ocean,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, the ships will practice joint tactical maneuvering, communications coordination, artillery shelling, and ship-based helicopter missions.
It added that the patrolling mission’s objectives are to strengthen naval cooperation between Russia and China, uphold peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region, monitor sea waters, and defend Russian and Chinese maritime economic activity facilities.
The announcement was just before the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan.
The meeting, first after the Ukraine invasion was launched in February, comes at a time when Putin’s troops have received a setback by Ukraine’s blitz counter-offensive.
China has refused to join the international community to isolate Russia. On the contrary, the military cooperation between Beijing and Moscow has only grown. In May this year, the two countries carried out bomber patrols over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.
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As part of the Vostok 2022 naval drills, China and Russia collaborated to destroy a “hostile submarine” in the Sea of Japan, as previously reported by EurAsian Times. China and Russia have strengthened their cooperation in the face of increased pressure from the US.
“China doesn’t really have any other large, powerful partners in the way that the United States has many European and Indo-Pacific allies that it can rely on. So Russia is by far the most powerful state that is somewhat closely aligned with China,” Brian Hart, a fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNN.
The first set of joint patrols was conducted in the western Pacific in October 2021 It involved ten warships, five from each nation, and lasted a week, from October 17 to October 23, covering 1,700 nautical miles.
EurAsian Times could not independently verify which warships from either side are currently conducting patrols in the Pacific. However, China had earlier dispatched its Type 055 Nanchang destroyer and Type 054A guided-missile frigate Yancheng for Vostok 2022.
Besides this upholding military cooperation and sending a strong message to the adversaries in the West, China is also geared to project its military power in the Asia Pacific.
The PLAAF 20 Series Aircraft On Display
The remains of Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) martyrs who gave their lives in the mission to resist US aggression and aid Korea (1950–53) will be returned from South Korea on September 16 for the first time with the help of J-20 stealth fighter jets, state-run Global Times reported.
According to analysts, this action will honor the CPV martyrs while highlighting the growing number of J-20s currently in use. Shen Jinke, a spokesperson for the PLA Air Force, said when the Y-20 enters Chinese airspace to transport the CPV martyrs’ bodies back to China, the J-20 will accompany it.
Since the PLA Air Force began such operations in 2015, this will be the first deployment of the powerful J-20 stealth fighter jet. The PLA Air Force dispatched Y-20 cargo aircraft and J-11B fighter jets in 2020 and 2021 to retrieve the bodies of CPV martyrs.
According to Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert, the move would demonstrate the PLA’s increasing power, and replacing the J-11B with the J-20 shows that more J-20s are in use now.
Official releases have confirmed that the J-20 has been in service with the PLA Eastern Theater Command and the Northern Theater Command, with reports indicating the aircraft is also being commissioned into other theater commands. The J-20s were also deployed in drills conducted around Taiwan Strait last month.
“No other country can bully China, as the Chinese military is capable of safeguarding China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests,” Zhongping said.