south china sea.jpg
A handout satellite image provided by the Center for Strategic and International Studies/Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Digital Globe on 09 August 2016 shows the Mischief Reef in the South China Sea, on 22 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/CSIS/AMTI/DIGITAL GLOBE / HANDOUT

China and Russia were poised to begin naval drills in the South China Sea late Monday, with no sign that Beijing will relinquish its claim to nearly all of the contested waters.

The exercises off the coast of China's southern Guangdong province will include ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters, marine and amphibious armoured equipment, a Chinese Defence Ministry statement said.

Over eight days, the two countries will mainly focus on joint air defence, anti-submarine drills, joint search and rescue, sea crossings, and drills to take control of islands, the statement said citing a Chinese navy spokesman.

The Russian fleet arrived at a port in Zhenjiang city Monday afternoon, China's official Xinhua news agency reported. 

The two sides have conducted six joint navy drills in five years, and the drill will enhance the abilities of both sides to counter "common security threats," Xinhua quoted Wang Hai, deputy commander of the Chinese navy, as saying at the welcoming ceremony. 

China's Defence Ministry said earlier that the drills were not aimed at any other country.  

However, experts have warned that an increased Chinese military presence in the South China Sea may be intended to show their tough position on the issue.

Beijing claims nearly all of the sea, including the Paracels east of Danang and the Spratly Islands to the south between Vietnam and the Philippines.

Chinese construction in the Spratlys, which includes runways and lighthouses, has made it the subject of international criticism.

Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei all have competing claims over the important sea route.

In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that Beijing had no legal right to its claim on a large swathe of the area, in a case brought by the Philippines.

China did not participate in the arbitration case, and rejected the decision as "null and void."

China launched military drills in the sea a week after the ruling.

Related stories

China to begin new military exercises in South China Sea

China conducts South China Sea drill with aircraft carrier

Report: China has installed new weapons in South China Sea

Latest news

Trump-style rhetoric is making world more dangerous, Amnesty says

Divisive and "poisonous" language used by politicians such as US President Donald Trump is putting vulnerable populations at risk and making the whole world a more dangerous place, Amnesty International charged on Wednesday.

Canada soon to begin resettling Iraqi refugees, most of them Yezidis

Canada will resettle 1,200 survivors of the Islamic State campaign to target religious minorities in northern Iraq, Canadian officials announced Tuesday. 

Breitbart editor resigns after release of paedophilia comments

Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial editor at the far-right Breitbart news website, resigned Tuesday after the emergence of recordings in which he appears to defend sexual relationships between young boys and older men.

Trump administration opens door for mass deportations

The US Department of Homeland Security laid the groundwork Tuesday for mass deportations of immigrants living illegally in the United States under an executive order by President Donald Trump last month.

Brexit bill: House of Lords says public can change mind on leaving EU

The British public should be able to change their minds on Brexit - just as Prime Minister Theresa May did, the upper chamber of parliament heard Tuesday during a marathon debate on legislation to kick off EU negotiations.

Italian lawmakers, rights activists clash over gay sex club scandal

Gay rights activists and conservative politicians clashed Tuesday after the chief of Italy's anti-discrimination office quit over allegations that money had been authorized for gay sex clubs.

EU countries agree new rules to avoid tax evasion

European Union finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday reached a political agreement on new rules to ensure that multinational corporations do not declare profits in the countries where they pay the least tax but in the countries where they generate it.

Trump condemns "horrible, painful" anti-Jewish incidents

US President Donald Trump condemned a recent spate of threats against Jewish community targets across the United States, during a visit Tuesday to the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

FinMin expects Croatia to exit Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Tuesday Croatia could exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring and that it was showing progress in correcting macroeconomic imbalances.

Austria seeks to create jobs, but new EU immigrants need not apply

Austria plans to create 160,000 jobs in the next three years by subsidizing companies, but the project has raised concerns because it effectively excludes people who recently immigrated from other EU countries.

Juncker: Not good for W. Balkans that some in Washington want to water down EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday it was not good for Western Balkan countries that some people in the new US administration gave the impression of being against the European Union because those countries needed the prospects of EU membership.

Citizens invited to help create Croatian version of Monopoly

A project to create a Croatian edition of Monopoly, in which citizens can participate by submitting proposals and which could become a souvenir for tourists, was presented at a press conference on Tuesday.

German state approves full-face veil ban

Legislation that bans face veils in select public spaces and situations was agreed by the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday.

Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok named Asia's best for third year

Bangkok's Indian eatery Gaggan on Tuesday was named the best restaurant in Asia for the third consecutive year by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

HGK: 16 Croatian companies to exhibit at IDEX defence exhibition

Sixteen Croatian companies will exhibit their products at the 13th IDEX 2017 defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, to be held on February 19-23.