China passes new rules to prosecute trespassers in its territorial waters
Chinese naval vessels participate in a drill in the East China Sea, China on Aug 1. Reuters

China and Russia to hold naval drills for eight days in the South China Sea off southern China's Guangdong province starting from Monday.

The Chinese navy said in a statement on Sunday on its official microblog that the "Joint Sea-2016" drill will feature surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters and marines.

The move comes at a time of heightened tension in the disputed waters after the arbitration court ruling in July that rejected China's vast claims in the South China Sea and said those claims have no legal basis. But China denied to accept or recognise the tribunal's decision and refused to participate in the case.

The statement said both the nations will carry out defence, rescue and anti-submarine operations, as well as "island seizing" and other activities.

The marines will participate in live-fire drills, island defence and landing operations. These operations will be the largest operation ever taken together by the two countries' navies, the statement added.

In July, China had announced the "routine" naval exercise and said that the drills were aimed at strengthening cooperation and not targeted to any other country.

China and Russia have always held similar views or opinions on major issues such as the crisis in Syria, often putting them at odds with the United States and Western Europe. They are veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council.

In 2015, both the countries jointly organized military drills in the Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean Sea.

China has claimed vast swathes of the waterway, which accounts for most of the 3.5-million-square-km South China Sea, with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also staking claims.

Beijing has repeatedly blamed the United States for fueling tension in the region through its military patrols, and of taking sides in the dispute.

However, the United States denied taking sides in the territorial disputes. It has sought to assert its right to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea with its patrols.

Russia has always been a strong supporter of China's stance on the arbitration case, which was filed by the Philippines.