Beijing: Amid mounting tensions with neighbouring countries over South China Sea, the Chinese Navy is engaged in high-profile drills with the Russian vessels, triggering speculation that Moscow wants to make its presence felt in the disputed region by showing support to Beijing.
On the third day of the week-long exercises today, state- run CCTV showed China-Russian naval vessels conducting live firing drills with some of their big warships in the Yellow Sea off China's Qingdao city.
The drills sparked off speculation about Russia's intention to express support to China in managing the South China Sea (SCS) disputes, which flared up with the entry of the US into the region in a big way.
The timing of the drills coincided with the US-Philippine exercises which included capture of patrol drilling platforms in the oil-rich SCS, which is claimed by China and many other countries. US troops also held exercises with South Korean military.
Vietnam, which is actively pursuing its SCS dispute with China along with Philippines, too has announced its military drills with US navy.
Philippines whose naval ships had a standoff with Chinese vessels at the Scarborough Shoal in SCS, which Beijing claims as Huangyan islands, asked the other SCS countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei, which had similar disputes with China, to come out in open and speak up.
Manila also filed a case against Beijing over its maritime dispute in the International Court of Justice in Hague, much to the resentment of China.
Adding to Beijing's concerns, Japan last week hosted the Mekong region countries' conference with the heads of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam -- all neighbours of China -- and pledged USD 7.4 billion for the development of the region.
The conference, for the first time, propelled Japan's influence into the region hitherto considered as China's backyard.
First Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 15:58