China-Russia war games 'not linked to India missile'
Beijing: China said on Thursday upcoming joint war games between China and Russia were not organised in response to India's successful ballistic missile launch and were instead aimed at upholding regional peace.
According to China's defence ministry, the two neighbours will hold joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea off the coast of the eastern port city of Qingdao from April 22-27.
The war games come after India successfully test fired a new missile Thursday capable of delivering a one-tonne nuclear warhead anywhere in rival China, marking a major advance in its defence capabilities.
India views the rocket, which has a range of 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles), as a key boost to its regional power aspirations and one that narrows -- albeit slightly -- the huge gap with China's technologically advanced missile systems.
"This joint military exercise is a long scheduled one between China and Russia in order to uphold regional peace and stability," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters.
"This is not linked (to the Indian missile test)," he said.
Beijing and Moscow agreed to hold the joint exercises during a visit to Russia last year by Chen Bingde, chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army.
"The joint exercises will strengthen the naval forces' ability to jointly confront new regional threats and demonstrate their confidence to maintain peace and stability in the region and world," Chen said in a statement on the defence ministry website.
The drills will focus on joint maritime defence and protection of navigation and will involve 16 Chinese ships and two submarines and four vessels from Russia's Pacific Fleet, as well as Russian war planes and naval infantry, the statement said.