PLA vessels sail through Tsushima Strait near Japan
Central News Agency
Taipei, Aug. 17 (CNA) A fleet of seven Chinese naval vessels sailed through the Tsushima Strait near Japan on Monday afternoon as it sailed to Russian waters where a joint China-Russia naval drill will take place later this month, according to the China News Service.
The Chinese Navy contended in an official blog post that the Tsushima Strait, which cuts between the island of Kyushu and Japan's Tsushima Island, constitutes international waters open to the vessels or aircraft of any country.
The move was interpreted by many Chinese web media as "well timed and delivering a political message to Japan" as the ships in the fleet left their home bases on Aug. 15, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
The Tsushima Strait was site of a major victory by Japanese fleet over the Navy of the former Russian Empire in 1905, enabling Japan to enter the ranks of world powers and begin its expansion overseas.
The strait, which is 45 kilometers in width at its narrowest, is a crucial passageway for Japanese ships and aircraft to enter the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the Pacific.
The Joint China-Russia Sea Exercise 2015 (II) will occur in both the Sea of Japan and off the coast of the Russian region of Primorsky, across the Sea of Japan from Hokkaido, from Aug. 21 to 28.
China's official mouthpiece, Xinhua News, reported Saturday that in addition to the seven vessels, six helicopters, five fix-wing aircraft, 21 amphibious landing vehicles and 200 members of the Marine Corps, are taking part in the exercise, the second of its kind this year.
The first China-Russia naval exercise was held in the Mediterranean in May.
(By Bear Lee)
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