March 16, 2023
BEIJING – Military drills in the Gulf of Oman jointly carried out by countries including China, Iran and Russia have nothing to do with any regional situation around the world, and are indicative of the willingness of participating countries to uphold the regional peace and stability, experts said.
The Ministry of National Defense announced on Wednesday that the navies of China, Iran, Russia and other nations will carry out the Security Bond-2023 maritime joint military exercises in the gulf from Wednesday to Sunday.
The exercises have evolved from previous China-Iran-Russia joint maritime drills held in 2019 and 2022, the ministry said in a news release.
China has sent its guided-missile destroyer CNS Nanning to participate in the drill. The destroyer will be mainly involved in activities such as air searches, maritime rescues and maritime detachment exercises, it said.
“The exercises will help deepen practical cooperation among the navies of the participating countries, further demonstrate the willingness and ability to jointly safeguard maritime security and actively build a maritime community with a shared future, and inject positive energy into regional peace and stability,” the ministry said.
Zhou Bo, a senior fellow at Tsinghua University’s Center for International Security and Strategy, said that the joint military exercises, which have become a regular mechanism, would benefit maritime security in the Gulf of Oman, a “strategic channel” that many civilian ships pass through every day.
A researcher of international military relations at the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Science said “the joint maritime drills are part of multinational defense cooperation, which is normal and is not relevant to any regional situations or third party in the world”.
The researcher, who asked to be anonymous, said the drills have showed the strong will of China, as a major responsible power, to maintain peace and stability in the “region with high significance”.
“The Gulf of Oman is connected to the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz and is surrounded by many major oil producers in the world,” he said, noting that the joint drills are significant to safeguard maritime security in the region.
Another international politics researcher with the PLA, who also asked not to be named, said the maritime military exercises have demonstrated the differences in thinking between China and Western military blocs, which usually conduct military drills against imaginary enemies.
“The Chinese military has indicated its peace-loving concept by attending the maritime drills, which aim for common security,” he said.
Unlike Western military alliances, which frequently carry out exercises with their own imaginary enemies, China and other participating countries always focus on promoting global and regional stability in their joint military drills, the researcher stressed.