In this Friday, July 8, 2016 photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese missile frigate Yuncheng launches an anti-ship missile during a military exercise in the waters near south China’s Hainan Island and Paracel Islands. They are controlled by Beijing but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. China’s navy is holding a week of military drills around the disputed islands ahead of a ruling by an international tribunal in a case filed by the Philippines challenging China’s claim to most of the South China Sea. China is boycotting the case before The Hague-based court and says it will not accept the verdict. (Zha Chunming/Xinhua via AP)
Russia is to hold joint naval exercises with China in the South China Sea in September as tensions escalate over the fiercely contested islands.
China’s Defence Ministry insisted the “routine” drills were aimed at strengthening their co-operation and were not aimed at any other country.
But they come at a time of heightened tensions in the region after a UN-backed tribunal ruled this month that China did not have historic rights to the waters.