The Chinese Navy and Singapore reported on Wednesday that they are conducting joint naval exercises, an initiative that Chinese diplomacy hopes will contribute to bringing the American Asian ally closer to its claims in the South China Sea.
The Singapore exercises emerged from “a consensus between the two navies,” said Chinese Navy spokesman Gao Xiucheng, indicating that the objective is “to stimulate mutual cooperation, deepen friendship, promote cooperation and jointly start building a maritime community with a shared future ”.
Second advanced on Wednesday the Daily News, the joint search, rescue and communications exercises are expected to last three days and follow a 2019 agreement between both countries.
China claims the sovereignty of almost all of the South China Sea islands and disapproves of operations in the area by the United States (USA), which has naval bases at various points in the region. Earlier this month, the Chinese and US navies were involved in an incident in the region.
The USA argues that navigation in the area is free because they are international waters, while China considers the unauthorized passage of foreign ships as a attack on their sovereignty.
To the South China Morning Post, the maritime security analyst at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Collin Koh, said that with these exercises, China is trying to compensate for the pandemic’s achievements in its diplomatic efforts in the region.
To the official Chinese newspaper Global Times, scholar Fan Lei of Shandong’s Young University of Political Science said that the exercises “show that defense cooperation between the two countries has become systematized and that mutual trust is growing.” “The common concern of China and Singapore is the security of the Straits of Malacca (…) and the exercises have more political than military relevance ”, he pointed out.
ZAP / Lusa //