China's Defense Ministry revealed Wednesday that the country will hold a joint naval drill with Russia in late May in the East China Sea.
According to China Central Television, the drill is planned in waters northeast of the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, which China claims and calls Diaoyu. This will be the first joint exercise by China and Russia near the islands at the center of tensions between Tokyo and Beijing.
The Chinese ministry told Kyodo News it is a regular drill aimed at improving capabilities of the two countries' navies in dealing with "maritime security threats."
The plan was revealed after Japan and the United States released a joint statement last week saying that the Senkaku Islands in the sea fall under the scope of their long-standing security treaty and expressing strong concern over China's growing assertiveness.
China and Russia jointly conducted naval exercises in the Sea of Japan off Vladivostok in July 2013 and the Yellow Sea in April 2012.