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Expert interprets China-Malaysia military exercise at Malacca Strait

( Source: Xinhua  )         2015-September-14 17:24

  BEIJING, September 14 (ChinaMil) -- China will assign three naval warships, seven warplanes and 1,160 troops from the Army, Navy and Air Force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to participate in the first joint military exercise with Malaysia. Since it will be carried out near the strategic waterway of Malacca Strait, the exercise has triggered many speculations and analysis.

  Several Chinese military experts elaborated on the background and purpose of this joint military exercise on September 13. They also denied those groundless speculations.

  News came from the regular press conference of China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) in August said that China and Malaysia will carry out a realistic joint military exercise, codenamed "Peace and Friendship 2015", in the Malacca Strait and surrounding waters from September 17 to 22. A joint command post will be set up by the two sides to command and coordinate the land, sea and air troops participating in the exercise, including 1,160 military members from the Chinese side. This will be the first realistic joint exercise between the Chinese and Malaysian militaries.

  A Chinese naval taskforce, composed of the guided-missile destroyer Lanzhou, guided-missile frigate Yueyang, hospital ship Peace Ark, and three ship-borne helicopters, has left Sanya in south China's Hainan Province on September 12 for the exercise.

  Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher with the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said on September 13 that from the Chinese side, the joint exercise is mainly focused on the PLA Navy including a small number of special operations members, along with four transport planes from the PLA Air Force and some medical staff from the PLA army. Of course, medical personnel from the PLA Navy on the Hospital Ship Peace Ark will also take part in the drill of disaster relief.

  Themed with "Joint Implementation of Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW)", the exercise consists of sea and land training subjects, including joint escort, joint search and rescue, hijacked vessel rescue, real weapons use, humanitarian rescue and disaster relief.

  According to Zhang Junshe, this isn't the first cooperation between China and Malaysia. The two sides had good cooperation during the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the south of the South China Sea and in the south of Indian Ocean, and militaries of both countries also cooperated in the multilateral joint military exercise of the ASEAN.

  The China-Malaysia joint military exercise reflects the two sides' common wish to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries and two militaries and is conducive to enhancing their strategic mutual trust.

  Zhang noted that "Malaysia is an ASEAN member and a concerned party in the South China Sea maritime disputes. The joint exercise indicates that China and Malaysia value their friendship and cooperation and have kept the maritime disputes from affecting the overall situation."

  Chinese military expert Li Jie, also a senior research with the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said in an interview that the exercise indicates China's enhanced efforts to strengthen military cooperation with its neighboring countries.

  "The China-Malaysia joint military exercise is a strategic breakthrough and will give a good demonstration of the chain reaction effect. Although China and Malaysia have disputes over maritime islands, the regional security and stability requires the united efforts of all parties concerned," Li Jie said.

  Another reason why the China-Malaysia joint military exercise has drawn so much attention in the international community is that it will be carried out around the Malacca Strait, which, as is known to all, is a critical waterway that both the U.S. and Japan want to control. Some countries therefore wonder whether China has other motives in carrying out the exercise, to which Liang Yang, spokesperson for the PLA Navy, replied "the exercise does not target a third party and is not related to the regional situation".

  Li Jie also refuted the groundless guesses from the perspective of the exercise subjects, including joint escort, joint search and rescue, and humanitarian rescue and disaster relief, all of which are MOOTW subjects. Li Jie said "the subjects are of strong practical significance and can be applied to such purposes as maintaining waterway safety, fighting pirates and combating terrorism in the future."

  He also noted that "the U.S. has been emphasizing that waterway in the South China Sea isn't safe, so China is cooperating with its neighboring countries in anti-terrorism, search and rescue and other fields in order to better safeguard regional peace and waterway safety, and better fulfill its responsibilities as a big country."

  Li Jie believed that participation of land, sea and air troops will be the future trend of joint military exercises. Joint operation should not be limited to the military of one nation alone, but should also be reflected in the joint exercise with friendly foreign militaries.

  According to Li Jie, the cooperation among land, sea and air troops is of strong practical meaning in such fields as anti-pirate and humanitarian rescue and disaster relief, and it indicates that the cooperation between the Chinese and Malaysian militaries isn't limited on the sea. As China doesn't have enough aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, its military forces and supplies cannot be delivered by helicopters, so transport planes of the air force are needed while the army force can directly attack pirate dens.

Editor :  Yao Jianing