China, Russia in largest-ever joint naval drills

BEIJING (AP) - China says it will join Russia later this week for its largest-ever naval drills with a foreign partner.

The exercises in the Sea of Japan starting Friday and running through July 12 underscore deepening military cooperation between the former Cold War rivals.

China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have their militaries begun taking part in joint exercises.

The Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that China's navy will send four destroyers, two guided missile frigates, and a support ship to take part in the exercises. They departed Monday from the port of Qingdao.

China will take part next year in the US-organised multinational Rim of the Pacific exercises, the world's largest maritime exercises.