China to participate in joint disaster relief exercise

Updated: 2013-03-29 01:06

By QIN ZHONGWEI (China Daily)

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China will join 17 other countries, including ASEAN members and the United States, for a ASEAN+8 exercise in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Brunei in June, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday.

It will be the first military exercise under the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus framework, known as ADMM-Plus, spokesman Yang Yujun said at the ministry's monthly news conference in Beijing.

In addition to China, the ASEAN nations and the US, the other six countries taking part are Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand and Russia. The exercise is scheduled to take place from June 17 to 20, according to The Brunei Times.

Experts said it provides a good platform for related parties to address non-traditional security threats, and find a solution to counter them.

Su Hao, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, said because new challenges such as natural disasters, climate change and terrorism pose common threats to all countries in the region, joint exercises have more than symbolic implications for all participants.

Su noted that the Asia-Pacific region is often plagued by extreme weather and natural disasters such as tsunamis, floods and earthquakes.

'International coordination and cooperation are particularly needed to address these unpredictable threats,' he said.

Under the ADMM-Plus framework, China and Vietnam co-chair the expert group on humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The upcoming joint exercise was included in the three-year plan when this group was set up in April 2011.

Zhai Dequan, an expert on security issues at the China Institute of International Studies, said it is a good opportunity for the Chinese army to practice its capability and join with other countries in dealing with common threats.

'Non-traditional security threats have been emerging in recent years, and no one can tackle them alone,' he said.

Such exercises — less sensitive than normal military drills — will help build mutual trust and common perception on regional security, Su said.

It is also the first multilateral exercise with the participation of China and the US, according to Su.

In November, the two nations' armies held a two-day exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Chengdu. Officers from the two countries discussed the response to an earthquake in a third country.

Liu Yedan contributed to this story.