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China says joint drills with Russia, Iran deepened trilateral cooperation, friendship

Iranian, Russian, and Chinese navies kick off joint military drills in the north of the Indian Ocean on January 21, 2022. (File photo by IRNA)

China has hailed the recent joint naval drills with Russia and Iran in the Sea of Oman, saying the exercises boosted the ability of their navies to conduct diversified maritime missions.

Tan Kefei, a spokesman at the Chinese defense ministry, made the remarks at a regular press conference on Thursday, saying the military drills further deepened friendship and practical cooperation among the three countries.

According to the Chinese official, the three nations sent forces including 12 ships, special operations and diving units to participate in the drills.

China, Iran and Russia conducted joint naval exercises in the Sea of Oman from March 15-19. The military maneuver, dubbed the Marine Security Belt 2023, aimed to strengthen regional security. Observers from Pakistan and Kazakhstan also participated in the drills.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Tan noted that the Chinese military is willing to work together with Russia to strengthen strategic communication and coordination.

The two countries would work together to implement global security initiatives, he said, adding that Beijing and Moscow would deepen military trust and jointly safeguard international fairness and justice.

They will also further organize joint maritime, air patrols and joint exercises, he said.

China and Russia have stepped up joint military exercises in recent years as part of their aligning of foreign policies to oppose the US hegemony.

Back in December, the naval forces of China and Russia launched a one-week joint exercise off the coast of the Chinese Zhejiang Province in the East China Sea.

China’s Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army said at the time that the joint exercise was directed at demonstrating the determination and capability of the two sides to jointly respond to maritime security threats, and further deepen the China-Russia comprehensive new-era strategic partnership of coordination.

Washington has become more vigilant about the relations between Beijing and Moscow ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, struck a “no limits” partnership in February 2022.

China has blamed the United States and NATO for “provoking” Moscow over the Ukraine conflict and has condemned Western sanctions against Russia.

Russia has also strongly backed China amid the recent tensions between Beijing and Washington over the US’ political and military interference in Taiwan.

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