China, Russia plan joint military drills in South China Sea

BEIJING (AP) — China’s military will hold joint exercises with Russian forces in the South China Sea in September, following a recent arbitration ruling that rejected Beijing’s claim to almost the entire strategic body of water.

Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Yang Yujun said Thursday the air and sea drills would be held in September and were aimed at deepening relations between the two militaries and boosting their ability to respond to maritime threats.

Yang said the exercises weren’t targeted at any third parties. He didn’t disclose the specific location, and some areas of the South China Sea are not disputed.

Chinese ships have challenged vessels from the U.S., the Philippines and other nations in disputed waters, and China considers the tribunal’s ruling earlier this month to be invalid.

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