ASEAN-China drills set outside disputed waters
The joint naval exercise is to be held off the coast of Guangdong province in China from Oct. 22 to 28, with the participation of the Philippines and the rest of the ASEAN member-countries, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Arsenio Andolong said.
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released
ASEAN-China drills set outside disputed waters
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As concerns over the militarization of the South China Sea continue, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are launching in October a joint naval drill in the potential regional flashpoint – but outside contested areas and without the participation of the United States and Australia.

The joint naval exercise is to be held off the coast of Guangdong province in China from Oct. 22 to 28, with the participation of the Philippines and the rest of the ASEAN member-countries, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Arsenio Andolong said.

He said the holding of a joint China-ASEAN naval drill was first brought up in February in Singapore at the informal ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting. It was China which proposed the conduct of a joint drill.

“After a series of informal defense ministers meetings, China’s proposal was unanimously approved by the 10 ASEAN member-states,” Andolong said. 

The Philippine Navy, Andolong added, had sent two of its naval officers to participate in the two-day “tabletop” exercises.

China’s barring the United States and Australia from the forthcoming naval exercises came on the heels of Beijing’s getting “dis-invited” by the US to the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) drill, the world’s biggest naval exercises being held in and around the waters between Hawaii and the coast of California. The naval maneuver is still ongoing.

Over the past years, the Chinese Navy has been projecting a blue water capability, sparking concerns that China is gearing for maritime domination not only in the Indo-Pacific region but ultimately across the globe.

But standing in the way of its maritime domination plan are old time powers like the US, Australia and the United Kingdom, among others.

China has been building island fortresses in several areas in the South China Sea being claimed or within the territories of other Asian countries, including the Philippines.

The US Navy has been continuously challenging China’s domineering presence in the South China Sea by conducting regular Freedom of Navigation Operations in the region, despite protests from Beijing.

China is claiming almost 90 per- cent of the South China Sea.

Other countries engaged in maritime dispute with China – aside from the Philippines – are Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Brunei.

Navy spokesman Commander Jonathan Zata, meanwhile, clarified that the forthcoming China-led naval drill would focus on “search and rescue operations” and the application of Code of Unplanned Encounter at Sea.

“Our navy officers, Capt. Hilario Casista and Commander Remuel Jerdinero, are back Friday from a two-day ‘tabletop’ exercises in Singapore in preparation for the holding of China-led maritime drill to be held off the coast of  Zhangjiang,” Zata said. 

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS CHINA
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