Beijing proposes joint ASEAN drill
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.