(From left to right) RSN’s RSS Sovereignty, PLA(N)’s Zaozhuang and RSN’s RSS Intrepid during the conduct of the simulated joint search and rescue exercise. (Photo courtesy of People’s Liberation Army (Navy))

The Global Times, which is under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper, published an article last Thu (25 Feb) saying that a recent joint military exercise between China and Singapore in the South China Sea shows the two countries are jointly addressing “risks” and challenges with the determination to safeguard regional peace and stability.

“A group of Chinese naval ships participated in a joint naval exercise with the Singapore Navy in the waters near Singapore,” it reported.

The Global Times is considered as part of a broader set of Chinese state media outlets that constitute the Chinese government’s propaganda apparatus.

It reported that the guided-missile destroyer Guiyang and guided-missile frigate Zaozhuang, part of China’s 36th Escort Taskforce, had participated in the joint maritime exercise with the Singapore Navy.

On Singapore MINDEF website, it acknowledged that Singapore’s Formidable-class frigate RSS Intrepid and Independence-class littoral mission vessel RSS Sovereignty “conducted a passage exercise with the People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer Guiyang and frigate Zaozhuang in the southern reaches of the South China Sea within international waters” on Wed (24 Feb).

“Planned virtually, the ships conducted a series of drills employing the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea. In addition to the manoeuvring and communications exercises, the two navies also worked together to respond to a simulated joint search and rescue mission,” MINDEF added.

PLA’s spokesperson: Countries in region openly oppose British and French navies sending warships to South China Sea

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times that the joint exercise has strengthened the friendly interactions between the navies of China and Singapore, promoted mutual understanding, enhanced trust, and laid a good foundation for further strengthening maritime security cooperation. It is also conducive to maintaining regional security and stability.

“If there is a maritime disaster in the South China Sea in the future, the navies of China and Singapore can jointly conduct maritime search and rescue operations to protect the lives and property of people of all countries and maintain safe navigation in the South China Sea,” Zhang added.

At the same time, the British and the French navies will send warships to the South China Sea to prove the so-called “freedom of navigation,” which Zhang said aims to “show muscle, brush presence, and stir troubles in the region to expand their influence.”

Obviously, such self-serving and provocative actions by a few countries outside the region are unpopular and countries within the region have openly opposed them and will not follow those actions, Zhang said.

On MINDEF website, it didn’t make any comments about the British or the French navies sending warships to the South China Sea.

MINDEF only said, “The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) continues to cooperate with friends at sea to enhance mutual understanding and strengthen friendships… We wish our PLA friends fair winds and following seas – and we hope to exercise together again in the future!”

 

 

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