Philip­pines to drill with China, ASEAN

Co­op­er­a­tion can aid peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of sea dis­putes: ob­servers

Global Times US Edition - - TOPNEWS - By Leng Shumei

The Philip­pines will at­tend joint mil­i­tary drills held by China and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) for the first time later this month in a move that Chi­nese ob­servers said could lead to a more peace­ful and pos­tive res­o­lu­tion of dis­putes over the South China Sea.

The Oc­to­ber 22-29 drills will be held in the city of Zhan­jiang, in South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince, Philip­pine news­pa­per Chi­nese Com­mer­cial News re­ported Tues­day, cit­ing Arse­nio An­do­long, spokesper­son of the Depart­ment of the Philip­pine Na­tional De­fense as say­ing.

Through the drills, Philip­pine mil­i­tary will learn more about the Chi­nese mil­i­tary in­clud­ing meth­ods of deal­ing and im­prov­ing un­ex­pected con­flicts, An­do­long was quoted as say­ing by the Manila-based news­pa­per.

An­do­long pointed out that Zhan­jiang was out­side the dis­puted ar­eas of the South China Sea and the drills would fo­cus on hu­man­i­tar­ian relief, the re­port said.

Flag Of­fi­cer in Com­mand Vice Ad­mi­ral Robert Empe­drad pos­si­bly will be the high­es­trank­ing naval of­fi­cer to be present at the drills,An­do­long was quoted as say­ing.

The drills in the South China fol­low two months af­ter “desk- top drills” – sim­u­lated drills with­out ground troops – were held in Sin­ga­pore by China and ASEAN coun­tries in Au­gust.

“The drills are a big step to ex­pand our co­op­er­a­tion in the se­cu­rity do­main, which is a sig­nal that re­lated coun­tries – es­pe­cially China, the Philip­pines and Viet­nam – would rather sus­pend dis­putes and to­gether eye mu­tual de­vel­op­ment,” Chen Xiang­miao, a re­search fel­low at the Hainan-based Na­tional In­sti­tute for the South China Sea told the Global Times on Tues­day.

“Our mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion with the ASEAN mem­bers has been weak com­pared to that in eco­nomic do­main,” Chen said.

“An easy start from less sen­si­tive ar­eas may lead us to ne­go­ti­a­tion and co­op­er­a­tion in dis­puted ar­eas in the fu­ture,” he said.

Shen Shishun, an Asia-Pa­cific ex­pert at the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, told the Global Times that mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion can deepen bi­lat­eral trust and un­der­stand­ing.

Threats to the re­gion re­main with the US seek­ing to con­tain the de­vel­op­ment of China in the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion, Jia Yu, deputy di­rec­tor of the China In­sti­tute for Ma­rine Af­fairs, told the Global Times.

“Peo­ple in coun­tries sur­round­ing the South China Sea call for peace, sta­bil­ity and de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

At ses­sions of a June meet- ing in Cen­tral China’s Hu­nan Prov­ince, Chi­nese Vice For­eign Min­is­ter Kong Xuanyou and se­nior diplo­mats from ASEAN coun­tries agreed their coun­tries would con­tinue to dis­cuss is­sues in­clud­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Dec­la­ra­tion on the Con­duct of Par­ties in the South China Sea, prag­matic mar­itime co­op­er­a­tion and ne­go­ti­a­tions on the code of con­duct.

All par­ties will con­tinue their ef­forts to set­tle the dis­putes over the South China Sea through ne­go­ti­a­tion, keep­ing dis­agree­ments un­der the con­trol of the rule-based frame­work, main­tain­ing peace of the South China Sea, ac­cord­ing to a doc­u­ment is­sued by China’s For­eign Min­istry.

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