As NATO exercises in the Black Sea Russia welcomes the Chinese navy
A Chinese naval squadron has sailed into the Baltic Sea to join the Russian navy for annual two-nation drills.
The Chinese squadron consists of a supply ship, missile frigate and a Type 052D destroyer. The latter is the most advanced guided missile destroyer in Chinese service which is highly significant:
"By sending its most advanced guided-missile destroyers, China is expressing its sincerity to Russia and also sends a strong signal to other countries who plan to provoke us," said Li Jie, a Beijing-based navy expert.
The Chinese ministry of defense says the drills are not aimed at any third party:
The Chinese ministry of national defense said the drills are held every year, and are not aimed at any third party. The drills are meant to enhance the China-Russia ties and also to improve both sides' ability to cope with maritime threats.
But at the same time the Chinese seem to be privately aware that by holding the exercise in the Baltic they are in fact sending a message:
Holding this year's drills in key strategic locations sets them apart from those in the past, Li said, citing the Baltic Sea as the scene of confrontations between countries, such as the US and Russia.
Recently Beijing has become increasingly upset with US presence in the South China Sea. It may see exercising with the Russians in the Baltic as just the right antidote.
Amusingly the Dutch, the British and the Danes all scrambled to escort the Chinese past their shores, and the British tabloids in particular are making the most of the Chinese "armada": The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express.
Even more amusingly, as the Daily Mail reports, the British trailed the Chinese squadron with their trusty HMS Richmond which looks like this:
Meanwhile, the Chinese 052D destroyer looks like this: