China and Russia will reportedly hold the joint Naval Interaction-2019 exercises right after a parade scheduled late April to celebrate the Chinese Navy's birthday, with Chinese experts expecting five to six Russian warships to participate.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and the Russian Navy will hold annual bilateral Naval Interaction exercises from late April to early May, according to a statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry, Russia's Sputnik news agency reported on Wednesday.
However, the schedule has not been confirmed by the Chinese side, as Wu Qian, spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense said at a routine press conference on Thursday that navies of both countries will soon start a second round of talks over this year's joint naval exercises following a first round recently being held, and more information will be released in due time.
Joint maneuvering, organization of communication, missile and artillery firing at sea and air targets and search and rescue support are listed as exercise subjects, the Sputnik report said.
The report did not reveal the location of the drills, but analysts said it could be in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province.
China will conduct a multinational naval activity in Qingdao in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the PLA Navy on April 23, and Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie told the Global Times that it is very possible the drills will be held right after the parade.
Li expects five to six naval vessels to participate in the joint exercises, and at least two in the Chinese parade.
The Naval Interaction-2018 exercises were originally scheduled to be held in Qingdao, as confirmed by Wu at a routine press conference in April 2018, but the exercises did not take place as planned.
The annual Naval Interaction exercises were established in 2012. After the previous exercises in July 2017 in Russia, Chinese vessels joined a Russian parade in St. Petersburg.
A rotation mechanism also indicates that the 2019 exercises would be held in China, analysts noted. Chinese military enthusiasts speculate the PLA Navy would possibly send an aircraft carrier and 10,000-ton class Type 055 destroyer for the parade, but no official information was released as of press time.