Thursday, November 24, 2022

China's Intensive Military Diplomatic Activities Highlight Cooperation

Close defense ties between neighbors create immunity against external instigations: experts

By Liu Xuanzun and Yu Xi

Nov 24, 2022 10:09 PM

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe delivers a speech at the ninth ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on November 23, 2022. Photo: Screenshot from China's Ministry of National Defense

China on Thursday announced even more military diplomatic activities with neighboring Asian countries following the country's defense chief's attendance of the ninth ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) this week, in a move experts said will bolster trust, cooperation and joint defense capability in the region, and which will build immunity against external instigations and fears that a Ukraine-like crisis could happen in the Asia-Pacific in the form of the Taiwan question or the South China Sea issue.

At the invitation of the Bangladesh Navy, the Chinese Navy will send the destroyer Changsha to participate in the International Fleet Review scheduled to be held in Bangladesh in early December and participate in related celebration activities, China's Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on Thursday.

The armed forces of China and Laos will hold the third friendly border defense exchange in their border region in late November, announced Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry, at a regular press conference on Thursday.

The 33rd joint patrol between the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command and the Vietnam People's Navy will get underway in the Beibu Gulf from Thursday to Friday, Wu said.

Another newly announced event is the expert video conference of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum hosted by the PLA Academy of Military Sciences on the theme of promoting the Global Security Initiative and jointly safeguarding peaceful development. It will be held on December 1 and 2, with more than 40 experts from 14 countries and one international organization confirming they will attend, Wu said.

These announcements came only a day after Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe attended the 9th ADMM-Plus in Cambodia and delivered a speech in which he called for world solidarity and fairness instead of hegemony and division, and called on countries to practice the Global Security Initiative and work together to build a solid barrier for universal security.

During the event, Wei met respectively with defense chiefs of the US, Vietnam, Laos, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, as well as the Russian deputy defense minister, exchanging views on strengthening military cooperation and issues of common concerns.

Before the ADMM-Plus, Wei also met with defense chiefs of Indonesia and Singapore respectively last week, and those meetings saw the resumption of the joint exercises between the Chinese and Indonesian militaries which were postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an agreement on a series of joint exercises between the Chinese and Singaporean armies and navies.

On November 18, the PLA Navy's Peace Ark hospital ship wrapped up its seven-day "Mission Harmony-2022," a good-will visit to Indonesia during which medical staff provided medical treatment to 13,488 local people and carried out 37 surgeries.

Southeast Asian countries are China's good neighbors and partners, and having military cooperation is in line with all countries' security interests, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.

China's military diplomatic activities are efforts to promote cooperation that will build closer security ties which will contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity, the expert said.

Typical areas for cooperation include joint exercises, dialogues for defense policies, personnel training, equipment development, medical assistance, disaster relief and anti-piracy, the expert said.

Cooperation will also build immunity against countries from outside the region, particularly the US, which is attempting to hook in countries around China to join its ranks in containing the country, and splitting the Asia-Pacific region in the process for its own hegemonic interests, the expert said. There are fears that the US is attempting to create an Asian version of the Ukraine crisis using the leverage of the Taiwan question or the South China Sea issue, he said.

In his meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, Wei reiterated the red line of the Taiwan question once again, emphasizing that the Taiwan question is the core of China's core interests and the first insurmountable red line in China-US relations. Taiwan is China's Taiwan, and the settlement of the Taiwan question is the Chinese people's own affair and brooks no foreign interference.

The military tensions between China and the US in the West Pacific are still high, and under such circumstances, China has made it clear that its national security interests must not be challenged, Chen Xiangmiao, director of the world navy research center at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Whether it is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine or the situation across the Taiwan Straits, they are all related to regional security, Chen said. The discussion on security is not only between China and the US, which is why China has also called for conversations among multiple countries and regions, he said.

China has made it clear that it will realize its great national rejuvenation through peaceful means and push forward its modernization peacefully, Chen noted. Meanwhile, when it comes to safeguarding China's own national security interests, it has no room for compromise, Chen said.

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