China explores deeper military cooperation with ASEAN, U.S.
China is deepening its military relations with Asia-Pacific countries through drills and dialogues, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
China and the U.S. also are working closely to facilitate mutual visits between Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, said Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, the ministry's spokesman. He did not give an exact date.
"The Chinese military is willing to work with the U.S. to promote mutual respect and trust, deepen practical exchanges and cooperation, properly handle differences and inject positive energy and momentum into the relations of both countries," he said.
Before the end of the year, China will hold an antimissile computer simulation drill with Russia, and hammer out technical details for its joint naval exercise with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he added.
"The Chinese military will continue to deepen friendly exchanges and cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries," Ren said. "We will further strengthen mutual understanding, promote dialogue to new heights and jointly safeguard regional peace and achieve joint prosperity."
Next year's drill will be China's first joint naval exercise with ASEAN, Ng Eng Hen, Singapore's defense minister, said on the sidelines of an ASEAN security meeting in the Philippines on Tuesday.
Chang also is in the Philippines attending the 11th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting and an extended meeting that includes ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners－China, Russia, United States, Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.
During the meetings, Chang spoke with his counterparts from Russia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. He also talked with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday.
"China seeks to enhance strategic mutual trust with the Philippines, properly handle differences, and push for sustained and healthy relationships between our two countries, as we are neighbors," Chang said.
Duterte said that the Philippines attach great importance to developing relations with China and he appreciates China's support in the Philippines' development, especially in its efforts to fight against terrorism in Marawi in the southern Philippines.
Philippine government forces just ended their combat operations against terrorists in Marawi after five months of fighting, in which about 1,200 people were killed. The fighting hurt the city's economy.
China donated 20 million yuan ($3 million) worth of trucks, cement mixers, excavators and bulldozers for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Marawi and officially handed over the equipment to the Philippines on Tuesday.
Luo Yongkun, a researcher on Southeast Asia studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said China's deepening military relation with ASEAN and other countries in the Pacific can strengthen trusts and find a solution to the South China Sea issue.