Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy has conducted joint military exercises for the first time in an area off the coast of South Africa, according to state media.
The Global Times reported Wednesday Beijing's combined maritime training was held in coordination with the Russian and South African navies. The exercises began in waters near Cape Town, South Africa, on Monday and will conclude Friday, according to the report.
The training is the first of its kind involving the navies of the three countries, members of the BRICS countries, or major industrializing economies. China has been South Africa's largest trading partner since 2009.
Operation MOSI included the "coordination of training plans and military exchanges" from Monday to Wednesday among the three navies. On Thursday and Friday, the three sides are expected to engage in maritime combined training, the Global Times report said.
The exercise is designed to show a "multinational willingness to ensure regional maritime peace, security and stability," the South African navy said, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
South African authorities also said the drills are for future preparedness that can ensure the security of maritime transport and economic activities.
The Russians deployed the Slava-class missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov of the Russian navy's Northern Fleet for the drills. China has sent the Type 054A frigate Weifang and South Africa deployed the Valour-class frigate Amatola, according to reports.
South Africa and China have strengthened ties as the two sides increase economic exchange, part of Beijing's Belt and Road initiative.