The navies of China, Iran and Russia are holding a joint maritime exercise starting Wednesday in a move to enhance cooperation as well as to safeguard maritime security and regional peace.
Based on the consensus reached by the armed forces of China, Iran and Russia, the navies of the three countries will be holding the Security Belt-2023 joint maritime military exercise from Wednesday to Sunday in the Gulf of Oman, China's Ministry of National Defense (MOD) said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Security Belt-2023 joint naval drill is a development of the two joint naval drills among China, Iran and Russia held in 2019 and 2022, with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy dispatching the guided missile destroyer Nanning to the exercise, mainly participating in training courses including aerial search, maritime rescue and maritime march past, reads the MOD statement.
The latest exercise will be conducive to deepening the pragmatic cooperation among the participating navies, in addition to further demonstrating their willingness and capability in safeguarding maritime security and actively building a maritime community with a shared future, bringing in positive energy to regional peace and stability, said the MOD statement.
The main training courses are search and rescue, and the Gulf of Oman is a region full of maritime transportation routes used by many countries in the world, so the drills are of positive significance in jointly safeguarding international sea lanes, Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the Naval Research Academy of the PLA, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Unlike some other countries that hold drills to target a third party, the exercise by China, Iran and Russia is not aimed at any third party, Zhang said.
This is the first time the trilateral exercise has been designated Security Belt, which is an indication that it has become a series and is expected to be held in a regular manner in the future, analysts said.
According to publicly available information, the Nanning, the Type 052D guided missile destroyer that is participating in the joint drills, is a part of the PLA Navy's 43rd naval escort task force to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia that set out from Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong Province in early January. In February, the ship joined the AMAN-23 multinational naval drills in Pakistan, before participating in the Naval Defense and Maritime Security Exhibition (NAVDEX) in Abu Dhabi under the invitation of the UAE military.
The PLA Navy has held joint exercises with many countries. The activities have boosted understanding and friendship with those countries' navies as well as the capability to safeguard maritime security with them together, Zhang said.