Bei­jing pro­poses joint ASEAN drill

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO LEI in Vi­en­tiane, Laos zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China will con­tinue to deepen its de­fense and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion with mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, State Coun­cilor and De­fenseMin­is­ter Chang Wan­quan said in Vi­en­tiane, theLao­tian cap­i­tal, onWed­nes­day.

While at­tend­ing the sixth China-ASEANDe­fenseMin­is­ters’ In­for­malMeet­ing, Chang said China pro­poses a joint ex­er­cise with mil­i­taries from ASEAN na­tions on mar­itime search and res­cue, dis­as­ter re­lief and ap­pli­ca­tion of the Code for Un­planned En­coun­ters at Sea. The code was ap­proved by naval of­fi­cials from­morethan 20Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries in April 2014 at a naval sym­po­sium in China.

China would like the ex­er­cise to be con­ducted in Zhan­jiang, Guang­dong prov­ince, and its coastal wa­ters in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017, Chang said.

China also in­tends to strengthen its anti-ter­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion with ASEAN mem­bers in terms of in­tel­li­gence­sharingand­coun­tert­er­ror­ism ex­er­cises, he said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Bei­jing is will­ing to en­hance the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s South­ern The­ater Com­mand and the mil­i­taries of ASEAN na­tions in a wide range of fields in­clud­ing bor­der and coastal de­fense, mar­itime se­cu­rity and anti-ter­ror­ism ef­forts, Chang said.

He added that China will con­tinue to honor its com­mit­ment to re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity and will un­wa­ver­ingly fol­low a peace­ful devel­op­ment path. The coun­try will al­so­push­for­wardits ef­forts to pro­motere­gion­al­co­op­er­a­tion while re­main­ing ded­i­cated to peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of dis­putes, he said.

Rear Ad­mi­ral Guan Youfei, di­rec­tor of the De­fenseMin­istry’s Of­fice for In­ter­na­tional Mil­i­tary Co­op­er­a­tion, told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence af­ter the min­is­te­rial meet­ing that de­fense min­is­ters from the ASEAN na­tions “highly rec­og­nized China’s sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the re­gional econ­omy, trade and cul­tural af­fairs”.

They also ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the Chi­nese mil­i­tary’s ef­forts to safe­guard re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity, Guan said.

Re­gard­ing the South China Sea, the rear ad­mi­ral said most of the ASEAN mem­ber states hold an “ob­jec­tive at­ti­tude” to­ward the is­sue and hope the coun­tries in­volved can ad­dress their dif­fer­ences through com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ne­go­ti­a­tion.

“Min­is­ter Chang pointed out at the meet­ing that there has never been any prob­lem per­tain­ing to the free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion in the SouthChina Sea, and we al­ways firmly de­fend the right­ful ex­e­cu­tion of this free­dom un­der re­lated in­ter­na­tional laws,” Guan said. “How­ever, we strongly op­pose the ‘free­dom of ram­page’ that uses war­ships and mil­i­tary planes and stands in stark con­trast to law­ful nav­i­ga­tion.”

Inad­di­tion, China will never ac­cep­tar­bi­tra­tionon­theSouth Chi­naSeaor its re­sults­be­cause it is­merelya“po­lit­i­cal provo­ca­tion dis­guised as a le­gal is­sue”, he­said.

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