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Chinese warships set out for joint drills with Singapore

Copyfrom:Global TimesPost Time:2023-04-28 15:51:49

Warships of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy have set out for Singapore to participate in the upcoming bilateral joint military drills and an international defense expo, with analysts saying on Wednesday that the events reflect pragmatic cooperation between the Chinese and Singaporean militaries and promote military openness and understanding in the South China Sea.

The guided missile frigate Yulin and the minesweeper hunter Chibi affiliated with the navy of the PLA Southern Theater Command have embarked in formation on a voyage to Singapore to participate in the China-Singapore Exercise Maritime Cooperation 2023 and the International Maritime Defense Exhibition (IMDEX) Asia, the PLA Daily reported on Wednesday.

The PLA Navy warships' missions are organized based on an annual international military cooperation plan and a consensus reached by China and Singapore, according to a press release from China's Ministry of National Defense on Monday.

During the event, the PLA Navy delegation will visit IMDEX Asia and join an international maritime security seminar, the Chinese Defense Ministry said.

To be held from Friday to Monday, the drill is the second Exercise Maritime Cooperation, the flagship bilateral maritime exercise carried out by the two countries, following the first edition held in Singapore in 2015 and a hiatus caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Straits Times reported on Tuesday, citing a statement by Singapore's Ministry of Defense.

Singapore's exercise with China underscores the warm and friendly bilateral defense relations between the two countries and enhances mutual trust, understanding and people-to-people ties between their armed forces, the report quoted Singapore's Ministry of Defense as saying.

The joint exercise highlights the close relations between China and Singapore and shows that Singapore is not choosing sides between China and the U.S., Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

This will positively contribute to the security situation in the South China Sea and make a model for other countries in the region, including the Philippines, which has been leaning toward the U.S., Fu said.

The Philippines is conducting the Balikatan exercise with the U.S. in the South China Sea and has recently provided four additional military bases for U.S. use.

The U.S., as a country from outside the region, has been stirring up troubles in the South China Sea, and China should work with countries within the region to safeguard regional peace and stability, Fu said.

By participating in IMDEX Asia, the PLA Navy will get a good chance to better communicate and promote military openness and understanding with not only Singapore, but also other countries in the region, observers said.

Singapore's Formidable-class frigate RSS Intrepid and Bedok-class mine countermeasure vessel RSS Punggol will participate in the drills, the Straits Times reported.

The warships involved in the joint drills show a high level of pragmatic cooperation between the two countries in safeguarding the vital maritime commercial and energy transportation lanes in the South China Sea including the Malacca Strait, which are important to both China and Singapore, as well as many other countries involved, another Chinese military expert told the Global Times, requesting anonymity.

Drills could enhance the capabilities of China and Singapore in keeping sea lanes safe and open through naval escorting and minesweeping, the expert said.

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