The Sino-Russian "Joint-Sea 2013" naval exercise was conducted by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and the Russian Pacific Fleet in the Sea of Japan from July 5 to 12. Concerns about "the Bear and the Panda dancing together" in neighbouring waters may be overrated now, but in the long term, these expanding series of exercises do warrant greater regional attention _ and concern.
This series of naval exercises was initiated by General Chen Bingde, the chief of the PLA General Staff, during his visit to Moscow in August 2011. The first exercise, "Joint-Sea 2012", was held from April to May in 2012 and entailed planning and a war game in Vladivostok, followed by sea drills in the Yellow Sea near Shandong Peninsula. This year's exercise, which included seven PLAN ships and 16 Russian warships, was touted by the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the "single biggest deployment of military forces in any joint foreign exercise". The PLAN ships travelled roughly 680 nautical miles, from Qingdao to Vladivostok, to link up with the Russian task force. The at-sea portion of the exercise reportedly lasted three days.
Training scenarios included fleet protection in anchorage, air defence, anti-submarine warfare, escort operations, replenishment at sea, search and rescue, surface strike, concluded by live-fire training and fleet parade at sea. Similar to the US-led RIMPAC exercises, social functions and sport competitions were held on the "sidelines" to enhance camaraderie among the two maritime forces.
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