BEIJING (AP) — China and Russia will hold joint naval exercises in the East China Sea later this month, amid regional tensions over island groups and airspace.

A notice on the Chinese Defense Ministry’s website Thursday said the “Jointly At Sea 2014” drills would begin in late May near Shanghai.

It said the latest in a series of joint drills aimed to “deepen practical cooperation and boost their abilities to work together to respond to seaborne threats.”

The East China Sea includes a string of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China, which regular dispatches patrol boats to confront Japanese coast guard vessels in the area.

The long-running dispute over the islands that Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu has grown more intense since Japan, a U.S. ally, nationalized some of them in 2012.

China also sparked denouncements from Tokyo, Washington and others over its announcement in December of an air defense zone encompassing much of the airspace above the sea, including over the disputed islands. Both said they wouldn’t recognize China’s demands that flights passing through the area identify themselves and follow Chinese instructions, requirements Beijing has apparently not sought to enforce.

China and Russia have conducted a number of joint naval and other military exercises since 2005 within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The grouping that includes several Central Asian countries is dominated by Beijing and Moscow and aims to promote regional cooperation and check U.S. influence.