Naval forces from China, Iran and Russia are staging joint drills in the Gulf of Oman this week, China’s defence ministry has said.
Other countries are also taking part in the “Security Bond-2023” exercises, the ministry added.
Iran, Pakistan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates all have coastline along the body of water lying at the mouth of the strategic Persian Gulf.
“This exercise will help deepen practical cooperation between the participating countries’ navies … and inject positive energy into regional peace and stability,” the ministry statement said.
The exercises scheduled for Wednesday until Sunday come amid heightened tensions between the US and China over a range of issues, including China’s refusal to criticise Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine and continuing support for the Russian economy.
The US and its allies have condemned the invasion, imposed punishing economic sanctions on Russia and supplied Ukraine with defensive arms.
Iran and the US have been adversaries since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979 and the taking of US diplomats as hostages.
China has dispatched the guided missile destroyer Nanning to take part in the drills centred on search and rescue at sea and other non-combat missions.
The three countries held similar drills last year and in 2019, underlining China’s growing military and political links with nations that have been largely shunned by the US and its partners.
Last week, China hosted talks between Iran and chief Middle Eastern rival Saudi Arabia that resulted in an agreement between them on Friday to restore full diplomatic relations after seven years of tensions.
While the US and Saudi Arabia have long-standing military and political ties, relations have frayed over the 2018 killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s leadership, and cuts in production by the OPEC+ oil cartel that the administration said was helping Russia.