Perhaps it is not a coincidence that on the 15h anniversary of Sept11, China's navy announced earlier that China and Russia will hold eight days of naval drills in the South China Sea off southern China's Guangdong province starting from Monday. The exercises, previewed here at the end of July, come at a time of heightened tension in the contested waters after an arbitration court in The Hague ruled in July that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea and criticized its environmental destruction there. As reported previously, China vehemently rejected the ruling and refused to participate in the case, and has been aggressively pushing an axis that involves Russia to counteract that regional tension which has seen the US spearhead the anti-China quasi alliance.
The "Joint Sea-2016" exercise will feature surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters and marines, the Chinese navy said in a statement on Sunday on its official microblog. The two countries will carry out defense, rescue and anti-submarine operations, as well as "island seizing" and other activities, it added.
Among the numerous exercises, which are meant to send a loud message to the US, Japan, Philippines and other "interested" parties who dispute China's territorial claims on the artificial islands and reefs in the South China Sea, marines will participate in live-fire drills, island defense and landing operations in what will be the largest operation ever taken together by the two countries' navies, the statement said.
China announced that it had called the "routine" naval exercise in July, saying "the drills were aimed at strengthening cooperation and not aimed at any other country." One can almost sense the smile on its face as it wrote this.
As a reminder, China and Russia are veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, and have held similar views on many major issues such as the crisis in Syria, often putting them at odds with the United States and Western Europe. Last year, they held joint military drills in the Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims. Additionally, China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stoking tension in the region through its military patrols, and of taking sides in the dispute. The United States has sought to assert its right to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea with its patrols and denies taking sides in the territorial disputes.
And this is why the upcoming drills are not just important, they have a massive symbolic significance: Russia has been a strong backer of China's stance on the arbitration case, which was brought by the Philippines. China's defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a July press conference, that China and Russia were comprehensive strategic partners and had already held many exercises this year.
"These drills deepen mutual trust and expand cooperation, raise the ability to jointly deal with security threats, and benefit the maintenance of regional and global peace and stability," he said.
And, as time goes by, Russia and China will only become closer strategic partners, to the exclusion of the US and Washington's own Pacific Rim sphere of influence, until ultimately the balance of power shifts so far that a provocation, either real or fabricated by a "superpower", will be the only recourse to accelerate a reversion to the power mean. Luckily, the US has much experience in precisely the kind of false flag event that will be required.