As China and Russia started on Monday an eight-day joint naval drill off the coast of south China's Guangdong Province, speculations are going rife that the military exercises are meant as a "sabre-rattling" event in the South China Sea."
Those susceptible to such speculations are either ill-informed about the fact that the joint naval drill has been an annual event since 2012 and that the ongoing drill takes place just off China's southern coast, or misled by their prejudice about China and Russia.
The drill, code-named "Joint Sea - 2016," comprises defense, rescue and anti-submarine operations, as well as island seizing activities, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry, which also said most of the Chinese soldiers participating in the event are from the South Sea Fleet.
A logical guess is that, for those who have bought the sensational claim regarding the drill, they probably only see words like "island seizing" and "South Sea Fleet" and start to imagine a war in the South China Sea.
They have fallen prey to the idea partly because earlier reports by Western news media almost unanimously wove some carefully chosen components into the background of the news of the China-Russia joint drill so as to deliver home a sensational impression.
By elaborating on a recent illegal South China Sea arbitration case pitting China against the Philippines, and perceived closer ties between Beijing and Moscow, such reports are intended to convince readers that China and Russia have enough motive to make the drill an occasion to flex military muscles against potential enemies.
However, the truth is that China and Russia have never wanted the routine drill to be a saber-rattling event but one that promotes maritime security and regional stability.
Unlike many other war games staged in the Asia-Pacific region, the joint drills focus on emergency response under multiple circumstances, instead of simulating an offensive against a third party.
The defensive nature of these maneuvers is in line with China's defence policy, which makes it clear that China will not be the first to strike. ' It may be true that growing military ties between Russia and China have irritated someone's sensitive nerves, but it is worth noting that excessive geo-political interpretation of a specific military drill is neither necessary nor justified.
China and Russia, both key players in global affairs, have a common interest in upholding peace in Asia and beyond, and they certainly welcome a constructive role by other stakeholders.