China, ASEAN con­clude mar­itime drill

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Top News - By LI WENFANG in Zhan­jiang, Guang­dong li­wen­fang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Naval forces from China and mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions wrapped up their first joint mar­itime ex­er­cise over the week­end, with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries ex­press­ing their hope for more such drills in the fu­ture.

Eight ships, three he­li­copters, five ob­servers and more than 1,200 naval per­son­nel from China and all 10 ASEAN coun­tries par­tic­i­pated in the on-shore ac­tiv­i­ties and ex­changes and drills at sea in ASEAN-China Mar­itime Ex­er­cise-2018 from Oc­to­ber 22 through Sun­day.

The eight-ship fleet con­ducted var­i­ous drills in waters east of Zhan­jiang, Guang­dong prov­ince, in­clud­ing search and res­cue op­er­a­tions and med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion drills with he­li­copters land­ing on other ships.

The Code for Un­planned En­coun­ters at Sea was used through­out the en­tire ex­er­cise, with the ves­sels ef­fi­ciently com­mu­ni­cat­ing, co­or­di­nat­ing and act­ing within its frame­work, en­hanc­ing all par­ties’ un­der­stand­ing and ap­pli­ca­tion of the rules, said Peng Gu­liang, Chi­nese co-com­man­der of the ex­er­cise’s com­bined task group com­mand at sea.

That com­mand con­sisted of of­fi­cers from var­i­ous coun­tries and was jointly led by co-com­man­ders from China and Sin­ga­pore. It fully em­bod­ied the ex­panded mu­tual trust among Chi­nese and ASEAN navies, Peng said.

Dif­fer­ent ships took turns com­mand­ing the ex­er­cise’s six drills.

Ro­ta­tion of ships lead­ing the drills is a com­mon prac­tice in a mul­ti­lat­eral ex­er­cise, said Aaron Li Jun Hong, com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of Sin­ga­porean frigate Stal­wart, adding “this is an op­por­tu­nity when par­tic­i­pat­ing navies take charge of dif­fer­ent drills, and we can learn from each other.”

“The ex­er­cise has fully shown the new level of strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and ASEAN,” Wang Hai, naval com­man­der of the South­ern Theater Com­mand of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, said at the clos­ing cer­e­mony on Satur­day.

“The co­op­er­a­tion in de­fense and se­cu­rity has made new progress, and to­gether we have writ­ten a new chap­ter in prag­matic naval ex­change among coun­tries sur­round­ing the South China Sea,” he said.

“The ex­er­cise has pro­moted our mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, deep­ened our strong friend­ship and en­hanced our mu­tual po­lit­i­cal trust,” Wang said. “I firmly be­lieve that this ex­er­cise will be a new be­gin­ning for China and ASEAN to deal with se­cu­rity threats to­gether and main­tain re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity.”

Lim Yu Chuan, co-direc­tor of the ex­er­cise, com­man­der of the First Flotilla and com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of 185 Squadron of the Repub­lic of Sin­ga­pore Navy, said, “The suc­cess­ful con­duct of the in­au­gu­ral ASEAN-China Mar­itime Ex­er­cise is an im­por­tant achieve­ment for the navies of ASEAN and China.”

“The drills have en­abled us to strengthen in­ter­op­er­abil­ity and, more im­por­tantly, to build trust and con­fi­dence in our navies work­ing with one an­other in re­spond­ing to mar­itime in­ci­dents.

“To­gether with my coun­ter­part co-direc­tor from the PLA Navy, we are very heart­ened by the pro­fes­sion­al­ism and hard work put in by the par­tic­i­pants in en­sur­ing the suc­cess of this ex­er­cise,” Lim said.

The ex­er­cise ex­hib­ited the will and de­ter­mi­na­tion of both China and ASEAN to safe­guard peace and sta­bil­ity in the South China Sea through co­op­er­a­tion, and it will help bet­ter at­tain the goal, said Zhang Jun­she, a se­nior re­searcher at the PLA Navy Mil­i­tary Stud­ies Re­search In­sti­tute.

CHEN WEN / CHINA NEWS SER­VICE

Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy sailors carry out a res­cue mis­sion dur­ing a joint ex­er­cise by naval forces from China and mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, which con­cluded on Satur­day in Zhan­jiang, Guang­dong prov­ince.

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