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Rare look inside China's aircraft carrier Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds.
Story highlights Beijing has begun dispatching its navy on increasingly wide-ranging forays The significance of the deployment will not go unnoticed in Washington and Brussels CNN One of China's most-advanced warships is leading a small flotilla to the Baltic Sea, where it will engage in exercises with The expansion of europe and china Russian Navy.
The Russian and Chinese defense ministries have confirmed the participation of a Chinese guided-missile destroyer in the week-long war games, the first-ever joint operation by the two powers in European waters, according to a report on the People's Liberation Army's official website.
Training will include anti-submarine warfare and air defense drills, the Russian Ministry of Defense said. Russian naval facilities in the enclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between NATO allies Poland and Lithuania, have been selected as the headquarters for the exercise.
China said the joint drills would be the first for the Type D destroyer Hefei, which was commissioned less than two years ago. It's being joined by a missile frigate, a supply ship and about 10 Russian ships. That China is sending warships halfway around the world -- unthinkable as little as 10 years ago -- is not going unnoticed among NATO allies.
British, Dutch and Danish warships have at various times been escorting the Chinese flotilla as it made its way to the drills through the English Channel and across the North Sea.
Read More The choice of the Baltic Sea is also significant, say analysts. The area remains a source of heightened tension between Russia and the US and its NATO allies -- China's arrival in the waters signals its intention to be considered equal to those powers.
Showcasing power In announcing the Baltic drills, China said they are not aimed at any "third party. The Chinese ships come to the Baltic at the end of a 10,mile journey. That included steaming through the Mediterranean, where they conducted live-fire training last week, according to China's Ministry of Defense.
Those exercises went on while another Chinese flotilla, led by the guided-missile destroyer Changchun, was also in the Mediterranean, most recently engaging in drills with the Italian Navy.
Magnus Nordenman, deputy director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, says with China's increasing role in world trade means it would want to be able to protect access to ports in northern Europe.
And naval power has a diplomatic quality to it, which is being used to forge ties when Chinese ships call in ports around the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean," Nordenman wrote on US Naval Institute website. China sends troops to Djibouti, establishes first overseas military base The exercises also come in what has been a busy month for a PLA Navy trying to expand its global reach.
Last week, Beijing dispatched ships with troops to formally open a military base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. While symbolically important, China's first overseas military base will provide a critical role in supporting Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean and on more far-flung voyages.
The second aircraft carrier -- which crucially is homemade, the overseas base in Djibouti, the Baltic drills.
There's a variety of things they can now check off the list," added Chiu. Combat capability The drills follow the launch in late June of China's first Type destroyer.
The Type ships are expected to be the air defense control centers for future Chinese aircraft carrier battle groups.
While the PLA Navy now has only one active aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, it has launched another expected to enter the fleet later in the decade and has plans to build four more.The Expansion of Europe: Overseas Empires and Commercial Development, A.
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