A Chinese naval fleet was spotted Sunday, sailing though an international strait between northern Japan and Russia’s far east.
According to the Japanese defense ministry, two missile destroyers, two frigates and a supply ship passed through the Soya Strait from the Sea of Japan to the Sea of Okhotsk. The channel, also known as La Perouse, separates the Russian island of Sakhalin and the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
According to the media, the ships took part in joint naval exercises with Russia that were scheduled July 5-12.
According to a ministry official quoted by the Kyodo News Agency, the purpose of the Chinese fleet’s passage through the Soya Strait is not known.
This is the second joint naval exercise session between Russia and China and is held amid regional concerns about China’s growing maritime power.
Also, the Chinese presence comes in the context of growing island disputes with Japan over the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. The islands are also claimed by China and tensions between the two countries grew after Japan nationalized some of the islands in September.
On the other hand, Chinese army chief of general staff General Fang Fenghui said that the joint exercises were not targeting “any third party”.