Russia And China Hold Joint Naval Drills Off Korean Coast

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Pyongyang fired a second ballistic missile over Japan last Friday, and the Korean Peninsula has been a busy area for military movements over the three days since.

But they come amid a flurry of air, sea and land exercises on the Korean peninsula triggered by the North's missile programme.

China and Russian Federation began naval drills near North Korea on Monday amid continuing tensions over the isolated state's nuclear ambitions and ahead of a United Nations General Assembly meeting this week, where North Korea is likely to loom large.

The drills, which follows China-Russian naval exercise in the Baltic in July and runs until 26 September, have not been directly linked to the diplomatic crisis engulfing the region.

As with any drill, Russian military sources emphasized that the exercise was meant to "consolidate partnership and practical cooperation between the two militaries", not to threaten any other countries.

The US, South Korea and Japan conducted their own bombing drills involving two American B-1B bombers and four F-35 jets from Guam and Japan.

China's Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, criticised the United States for demanding that Beijing put more pressure on North Korea to rein in its weapons programmes.

The North Korean nuclear issue must be resolved peacefully, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart during a meeting at the United Nations, China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

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A private Chinese firm smuggled materials needed to develop missiles to North Korea sometime in April, the Asahi Shimbun reported Monday.

North Korea launched a missile over Japan last Friday, its second in the past three weeks, and conducted its sixth and by far most powerful nuclear test on September 3, in defiance of worldwide pressure.

China has urged the United States to refrain from making threats to North Korea.

Although scheduled months before, the timing is curious as the joint drills are obviously a response to the Trump administration's pressure over North Korea's nuclear program.

US President Donald Trump has vowed that North Korea will never be able to threaten the United States with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile.

Asked about Mr Trump's warning last month that the North Korean threat to the USA would be met with "fire and fury", Ms Haley said: "It was not an empty threat".

Pyongyang has launched dozens of missiles, in an accelerated weapons program, created to reach an "equilibrium" of military force with the United States, according to The North.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the most pressing task was for all parties to enforce the latest United Nations resolutions on North Korea fully, rather than "deliberately complicating the issue".