The Japanese navy conducted a military drill in the South China Sea. According to the Ministry of Defense, a Japanese submarine linked up with three Japanese destroyers for anti-submarine drills, before moving on to a port call at a Vietnamese naval base in Cam Ranh Bay. According to the Asahi Shimbun, a senior naval official said the drill was meant to contain China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. But if the purpose of the drill is interesting, the timing is perhaps more so. The vessels were dispatched in late August, and the exercise was held Sept. 13 – the day after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok and declared that the two sides would “deepen cooperation.” At the time, we noted that relations between the two weren’t as good as the headlines made them seem – and that was before we knew such a provocative exercise had been scheduled. China’s response was
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